Networking in a lockdown. A locked-down network. A virtual network.

A month into lockdown life and for some of us, the lack of face-to-face human interaction is starting to take a toll with events we had been looking forward to cancelled or transitioned to an online format.

For some events, as insightful, relevant and informative as they may be, the real value, is the ability to invite clients or colleagues along as a marketing opportunity and to network with potential clients and other industry professionals.

The absence of interactive networking is proving a real challenge in the COVID-19 environment and a webinar-style event just isn’t the same as the face to face experience. Through some platforms and with some tech-savvy operators, the possibility of break-out forums with say, 6-8 participants is interesting; a bit like an online boardroom lunch. This concept has been popular in various formats pre-quarantine, but we can see it struggling in a virtual space particularly if there is a dominant guest.

Such a format would require a savvy facilitator/moderator with an egalitarian approach to prevent the session being hijacked by one or two dominant speakers and to provide space to invite introverted attendees to speak or ask questions to ensure all voices are heard.

There are other limitations inherent in the current VC technology and platforms.

As a part of this industry, architects are business people who just happen to also create spaces and design buildings. We do our best to understand our clients’ businesses and their challenges and help to address their needs through our connections, professional reputation and business experience.

Most of our business success is through our face to face meetings and personal contacts. It’s a very people focussed business, requiring good listening skills. However, this is only one layer of communication.

Tiny or pixelated screens and chugging or overloaded internet connections (anyone else sometimes reminded of the old dial-up days…?) can make it hard to read facial expressions or body language or gain any real clues from a person’s tone of voice or posture.

Unsurprisingly, some people are currently finding digital communication challenging and tiring, requiring a lot of concentration. National Geographic’s recent article on Zoom Fatigue rings true with a lot of us, explaining how video calls, whilst providing an elegant solution to working remotely, can cause complex ‘wear & tear’ on our mental load. We are all social beings who look forward to the time when we can greet each other and interact in the socially acceptable, traditional manner and all its subtle, layered nuances.

In the meantime, our team has been considering the changes to our business development methods required by the current isolation and we appreciate that our existing and potential clients are currently a “captive audience” spending a lot/all of their time connecting with the outside business world through digital means.

We are increasing our social media presence and ramping up the good news about our projects and case studies, publishing anything other than what we are doing about COVID-19 or the challenges of working from home!

Check out the National Geographic article here:

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/science-and-technology/2020/04/zoom-fatigue-is-taxing-the-brain-heres-why-that-happens

We found it particularly relevant and would be interested to hear whether our colleagues have had the same experience.

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