May 26, 2021 | By Warwick Merry
Now that we are starting to reintroduce ourselves to face-to-face meetings, there are certain things we need to remember to do or do better than we have in the past. Here are five of the most pertinent reminders as we get used to doing things in person again.
Use people’s names
They are no longer printed on the screen in front of you, so stretch that memory! They may have a name tag, they may hand you a business card, you may even write it down as you sit in the meeting room, but do what you have to so that you can use people’s names. They are the most important and responsive word they use.
For those that craved people connection during lockdown, a name is the best way to start. If you get it wrong, or forget it, don’t make a thing about it. Simply apologise and say you got it wrong or forgot their name and you want to get it right so get their name again, write it down and then keep going with the conversation.
Allow for travel time to be on time
It’s no longer 20 seconds from the kitchen with your coffee back to the desk. You need to allow for travel time, parking time, walking-from-the-car time, buying-the-coffee-at-the-cafe time and so much more. Being late sends the wrong message, particularly if you are meeting prospects or business partners. It takes minimal planning to add a little more time to ensure you are on time.
Have better small talk
You can do better than “So, where do you work?” or “So, what do you do?”. Most people hate small talk and it won’t help you connect as well as you would like. Go deeper, quicker and create a better relationship. How about some questions like, “What are you excited about at the moment?” “What has been the highlight of the last month for you?” “What do you consider your biggest achievement?” “What is your favourite food?” “Who would you most like to meet and why?”.
You can have fun with the questions or play it a bit more serious. It is up to you, but go to an event prepared to acknowledge WHOLE people, not just their work sides.
Now you may think this is obvious, but it is not simply wear SOME pants but wear the APPROPRIATE pants. Online meetings meant more casual attire. Our office has a “dress to the desk” policy. A more relaxed dress code may even lead to more production, but what is expected of you at a face-to-face meeting? Probably not a tie anymore but at the very least tidy business professional attire. Definitely not your pyjamas or tracky-dacks!
It seems like COVID-19 has gone beyond a pandemic and is now endemic to the world. The best way to minimise its impact is by vaccination and herd immunity. Australia is behind its vaccination goals, for a variety of reasons. But you can keep yourself, your family, your work colleagues and your community safe by getting vaccinated as soon as you are eligible.
These are not the only things you will need to keep in mind, but they will start you down the path of reconnecting with your colleagues, suppliers and industry. Some may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but be assured that the more you use them, the more they will become second nature to you once again.