Figuring out how to build business connections can be challenging at the best of times. Rebuilding your connections after a pandemic can be downright intimidating.
What to wear? Where to meet? Whether to hug? Why do I even want to connect with this person?
After being home for two years (mostly in our PJs) it’s not surprising we’re all feeling just a little bit awkward.
Even though things are going to be a little uncomfortable as we get back into the swing of things, let’s take the pressure off and break this down.
Things to consider as you evaluate how to build business relationships and reconnect with your network post-pandemic:
Find good reasons to reconnect IRL
While technology has helped us stay connected over the past two years, there are endless benefits to connecting in person too.
Think about your pre-pandemic relationships
While friendships are indeed high maintenance – keeping in touch, scheduling time together, finding a babysitter – they don’t need to be exhausting or scary. Think back to some of your best moments pre-pandemic, which type of get-togethers did you enjoy the most?
Schedule something you want to do
Reconnecting doesn’t need to mean scheduling meetings. Sign up for a monthly book club, weekly workout class, an industry talk or a cocktail hour with like-minded womxn. Also, knowing when and where you’ll see a friend eliminates most of the legwork required in scheduling a get-together and the chances of one of you canceling.
What benefit can you give to other people?
A key to maintaining our friendships is to think externally: How can I support and show up for my friends today? Giving our time to others actually makes us feel good. Taking the time to meet with a friend for lunch to talk through a problem they have might be just what they need right now.
Body language gives you social queues
Remember, In-person you can get a better read of other people’s body language, expressions and voice tones, making it easier to connect emotionally.
Safety first, COVID-19 isn’t 100% over
The pandemic definitely hasn’t gone away for good. If you’re still hesitant to meet in person make sure you’re meeting in a place that maintains good COVID policies and with people who respect your level of comfort around connecting in person. Also, make sure you are being thoughtful of others’ personal needs.
Know connecting in person is going to feel awkward
It can be scary to reach out and reconnect. If you’re worried about being awkward, embarrassing yourself or being rejected, be brave and try to overcome that fear. Most
people are likely to feel shy and awkward on some level or find social interactions exhausting. Everyone’s pace is going to be a little different, take it easy, but don’t give up.
Don’t worry about setbacks
Are you overthinking it? What else might be true?
As a society, we’re all over the place and the rules around connecting have changed. If you feel like things are moving slowly and you’re hitting roadblocks in rebuilding your social connections, take a step back and consider what might be true? Are you reading too much into someone’s slow response to your invitation?
Think of positive explanations
Everyone’s day-to-day life and routines have changed, they might be genuinely busy with other commitments or home with their families more than before, rather than avoiding you. Think of positive explanations for what you’re experiencing. Challenge any negative and unrealistic thoughts.
How to build business connections? Challenge your usual approach!
The last two years have been rough on everyone and people might not be ready to go back to business as usual. In fact, what worked before has likely changed forever.
Plan for connection
Make space for connection in your schedule, plan a long lunch with a friend, a date night with your partner, or reconnect with a professional connection over a yummy breakfast, put it on your calendar!
Schedule quality time
In today’s world, we put a lot more emphasis on getting things done than making time to connect with others. Instead of focussing on the quantity of weekly meetings you have, focus on the quality of each connection.
Be less transactional
Don’t always fixate on efficiency when you meet, allow time to catch up, for small talk and to really listen to the other person (instead of constantly checking your phone to see when your next meeting is).
Be mindful, don’t over-schedule
Go meeting Lite
Don’t stack your calendar with back-to-back meetings, especially right away, otherwise your meetings are going to feel rushed and you’ll be burned out in no time.
Be choosy about who you give your time to and why
You don’t need to reconnect with every relationship you ever had right away. Everyone is in the same place and no one is going to hold it against you that you’ve not connected in two-plus years. Be discerning about whom you spend time with right now. Who do you feel like connecting with? Who would it feel good to reconnect with? Meet with people based on that rather than coming from a place of “I should.”
Don’t put meetings ahead of yourself or your most important goals
If you’re feeling drained after socializing or a day of meetings, you are not broken. While rebuilding connections is important, don’t put meetings ahead of your most important goals or time for yourself or you’ll feel resentful, there are only so many hours in the week, use them wisely.
Rethink how you approach planning your schedule
Work, meetings and tasks don’t need to fill every hour of your “working” day. If you make a habit of scheduling me-time you may also feel the shift in how you show up and relate with others. Long term, think about what works best for your schedule and what makes you thrive? Meeting with others might just be the fuel that lights your fire or you may decide to never go back to stacking your calendar like before. Do you.
How to build business connections? Build your support system! Ask for the help and support you need.
We are not, in fact, lone wolves
If one thing became clear during the pandemic it’s that we are all interdependent. It’s time to let that “I’ve got it” attitude go and figure out what support you need and who can help you.
Just ask for help!
If you approach someone and tell them you’re struggling with something and ask for their help, chances are they’re going to say yes. Don’t hesitate just ask!
Don’t minimize your ask
We all need to ask for help more if we’re going to make real progress in business. It’s one of the best ways to deepen your connections, but remember not to minimize your ask. By minimizing our request, we also minimize any warm feelings people might get for helping us.
The Lola is a womxn’s club, workspace and digital community teaching women how to build business connections and creating space for them to connect, grow, thrive and create impact.
Do you want to strengthen your network? Intentionally build your connections, resources and support systems? Are you ready to grow, create impact and thrive in your life and in business, all with less hustle and more ease? Let’s get started!