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How to Stay Close to Your Colleagues

I’m not going to tell you things have changed or how different they’ve become; we all know where we are. 

What I would say (and I’ll admit I’ve pinched this shamelessly from a recent interview with an ex-Premier League manager) is that life is 10% about what’s happening and 90% about how you react.  For me this one quote perfectly summarises the many business development conversations we’ve been having since our working lives changed at the end of March.

To start with a lot of people were understandably somewhat discombobulated.  They didn’t know what to do next.  Marketing and Business Development had to quickly alter its direction, become more agile and think of interesting ways to engage with their clients during this uncertain time.

Companies and industries quickly adapted to the new changes we faced and found innovative ways to survive and for some thrive.  Despite the changes, key client relationship maintained a strong driving force in how we reacted.

The theory of establishing, developing and harnessing relationships is the same as it’s always been, the tactics however that we now need to use, have had to change to react to the current restrictions. 

In this short series of blogs I’m going to share a few of the tactics and initiatives we’ve seen work well over the last few months.  Given it will always be your most productive source of new opportunities, I am going to start with what you need to do to stay close to the people you know best, your colleagues (we’ll look at clients/customers and contacts in the next edition).   

Marketing internally is sometimes easy to forget as BD is traditionally externally focused.  However, if you take a retrospective look over where your new opportunities came from over the last year or so, I’m willing to bet a fair amount was referred to you in some way from the people you work with within your organisation.  It did?  Then the first thing you need to do is work out exactly who was involved.

The main sources of these opportunities will probably be from your line manager, the director or partner you work with the most.  I am sure in the new world you’ll already have your virtual team meetings in place and these will keep you in touch with your team but it may also be beneficial to ask for more 1on1 time with your key stakeholders / work givers.   

As our working styles change and we adapt to working from home supervision is harder.  We can’t ask all those quick questions we’d usually ask when we see each other around in the corridor around the office.  Similarly, whilst it’s easy to tell someone what they need to do next, you’ll do perform better if you know how it fits into the overall picture and you can’t go into that level of detail in team meetings.

Aside from your immediate manager, try to shortlist the colleagues you work with most regularly and arrange catch up time with them.  Put any nervousness to one side, people are much more likely to find time for a call at the moment.  While we’re working remotely it’s nice to have someone to talk to.  And don’t underestimate the positives of a non-work conversation, you never know what gossip you will find out.   

Once you have them on the phone, ask how they are, what they’re working on, what they’ve been doing to generate new opportunities and, if you can, ask how you could help.  It may be that they’ve been told to work on a big project or even a blog that could benefit from an alternative perspective.  It might be that they have a video team-on-team with another organisation or one of your important customers or clients coming up that you could join in with.

More subliminally, these calls give you the opportunity to remind your colleagues you’re still there and tell them about all the things you do.  It is amazing just how often something as simple as that can suddenly generate an introduction because, as you’ve moved it all back to the front of their mind, your colleagues will be much more likely to pick up on any opportunities when they’re talking to their own customers/clients and contacts.

And, from a more human perspective it’s actually nice to be told you’re doing a good job from time to time in amongst the regular demands and deadlines of the working week.   

In the next edition we’ll look at the different ways you can stay in touch with the people you know but want to know better, your existing clients and contacts.

Written by Douglas McPherson, Director, Size 10 ½ Boots for NextGen and