Sometimes it takes moments of great personal and professional difficulty to see how strong your network is. You lean on your contacts for advice, industry information or emotional support, and they, in turn, lean on you. The connections — or reconnections — you make during times of crisis can have a monumental impact, but you won’t know how helpful your network can be unless you reach out.
The most important thing to remember is to be tactful, professional and empathetic when communicating with people, especially if you haven’t spoken in a while. To help, we asked members of Business Journals Leadership Trust how they recommend reconnecting and drawing on your network in a crisis. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Offer assistance.
Reconnect by offering assistance. Many of our business and individual clients have been impacted by the pandemic. We have offered information, support and praise throughout and on an ongoing basis. – Fran Coet, ATLAS CPAs & Advisors, LLC
2. Be honest and open.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is take that next step to reconnect. You may feel bad about your lack of communication with your group of friends and colleagues in the past, but I feel that Covid-19 has allowed us all to get past any fear or uncertainty about how we will be treated or perceived if we can simply be honest and open about reconnecting and helping one another. – Thomas Giordano, Pond Lehocky Giordano, LLP
3. Make yourself available to people.
In a time of crisis, there is often a changing landscape that presents unique questions and problems. Providing expertise by making myself available to people who have these questions and fears is important, as is providing timely social media content that speaks to the current situation and adds value. This will solidify relationships and create business after the crisis is over. – Kevin McNab, ACE Wealth Partners
4. Be willing to make sacrifices.
Stay in constant contact with your employees, vendors, brokers, customers, tenants, etc. People seek connection in times of uncertainty, and that presents a tremendous opportunity to reinforce your brand’s core values. Be sensitive and willing to make sacrifices. It will pay back threefold in the form of trust and loyalty beyond the crisis. – Chris Loeffler, Caliber – The Wealth Development Company
5. Take advantage of newfound free time.
In my experience, these times have actually enabled me to have the time and space I need to make those connections. For example, I’ve connected with colleagues, friends and family whom I didn’t have the chance to speak to over the last six to seven years, simply because I’m not chained down to the same hectic schedule. – Ali Jamal, Stablegold Hospitality
6. Learn from your common experiences.
I think that the most valuable lesson that I have learned during these times of crisis is that everyone is in this together. Though we may all have different businesses in various industries, we all are experiencing similar problems. By understanding this, I was able to look at how I was addressing those issues in my own business and then offer those solutions to my network. – Bret Fair, 360 Risk Partners Insurance Solutions, Inc., dba 360 Risk Partners
7. Be generous with your time, energy and effort.
The best way to foster a strong network is to be generous with your time, energy and effort. This is especially true during a crisis, when business owners need to rely on their community more than ever for support and advice. Use this time as an opportunity to reconnect and offer resources and assistance where you can. Your network will remember your support and pay it forward in the future. – Rebecca Devine, Maven Communications
8. Remain relevant.
Be relevant. When Covid-19 hit I started a twice-a-week webinar and invited everyone I know. The webinar series is still drawing hundreds to follow the conversations and has resulted in three new clients. – Jennifer Stevens, JHL
9. Build a support team.
We have set up a crisis-management team with internal resources and outside counsel to work through any issues. The outside network consists of a PR person, a mentor and legal counsel. If and when a crisis arises, the internal team assesses the issue and creates a public response. The external team is brought in if the issue can’t be managed internally to provide guidance and oversight. – Victor Macri, The VMJR Companies
10. Share your challenges, wins and losses.
Reach out to your network and share your challenges, wins and losses. Let them know where you stand, but also ask how you can help them. Show that you care about them and they’ll reciprocate. – Zee Ali, Z-Swag
11. Connect with your competitors.
I have connected with many competitors during this time to learn what they are doing, and that has been very helpful. I have also connected with some of my past small-business cohorts, and that has helped as well. – Douglas Carter, Ironside Human Resources
12. Re-examine your processes and systems.
Crises give us opportunities to change our processes and systems. This brings up needs for re-examination, brainstorming and seeing things with fresh approaches. By having others with similar experiences but different perspectives weigh in on these thoughts, it’s much more likely a creative, successful solution will show itself. – Steve Carstensen, Premier Sleep
13. Get creative in reaching out to referral sources.
We have used the Covid-19 crisis to be creative with connecting with our referral sources. In the past, we have taken our network for granted by not explicitly reaching out. We are now taking the time to check in with our network as well as provide resources, referrals and thank-yous to these people in a mutually beneficial way. – Andrea Turnipseed, Roots Behavioral Health
14. Join LinkedIn groups.
A great way to draw on our network during times of crisis is to join LinkedIn groups. These offer business owners a place to collaborate, share ideas and just gain insight on the current times from other individuals. It’s important to focus on where you can add value and have engaging conversations with people in your network. The more you join, the bigger influence you’ll have. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
15. Share best practices and ask others for theirs.
It’s a great opportunity to share best practices and hear how others are weathering the storm. In some instances, strokes of genius result from a single conversation that you weren’t expecting. Even in times of crisis, not all individuals or companies are experiencing the same thing. Sometimes unique business opportunities present themselves in uncertain times. Be open to the possibilities. – John Lewin, Stivers Staffing Services