Networking in the New Normal no longer requires a cup of coffee. Some old school, 20th Century business professionals may still drink coffee during Zoom meetings. Even if they prominently display their favorite coffee mug which has guaranteed icebreaking small talk over the years, the tiny panel size in large virtual gatherings limits the tchotchke from even being noticeable. Without coffee or overt framed awards being the focal point of connecting, these antiquated power networkers now must resort to unfamiliar innovation! Beware, younger go-getters now have the advantage in manipulating connective experiences through small screens. Their successful social lives literally depend on it!
Fundamentally, people still do business with people. Yes, branding has become more effective in communicating likeable traits and presenting trusting images. Still, interpersonal engagement anthropologically retains an advantage in establishing personal connection. Like and trust still matter. Furthermore, engagement flourishes when it comes to communicating commonality regardless of the medium. People still prefer to connect with people they personally like! Understand that any contact who tells a more recent funny story about a favorite, eccentric entrepreneurship professor from their common business school, even through a tiny screen, has the advantage! Deal with it.
Still, most professionals have profiles, references, and virtual endorsements that can be quickly located and vetted. Literally, a potential contact cannot keep a lie for long about attending a university with a common connection. In the New Normal professional footprints are conveniently available in constantly expanding interconnected virtual environments. Credible and verifiable relationships consistently remain at a premium. Business remains primarily people to people, or at least profile to profile. An emotional connection still must be made. At some point in the engagement like and trust still becomes a major factor. It is difficult to believe that anyone currently feels comfortable doing a deal with someone who’s online profile projects a questionable feeling of illegitimacy.
Super Sensory Intuition
Do they feel right? Can they be trusted? What does their employer’s branding feel like? Beyond their website text, are their brand images consistent? Imagine a website where gray-haired business leaders are prevalently displayed, yet every time a Zoom call occurs, the other side looks like a hacky-sack game will break out at any moment. Legitimate suspicions can understandably arise. Pay attention to the details. At best the business’ branding is inconsistent. At worst, they are lying!
Nevertheless, realize that young talent can be superior in innovation and performance. Age does not necessarily equate with wisdom. Likewise, youth does not necessarily equate with creativity. Cross reference any perceived inconsistent signals. Ask questions about culture and experience to be certain that satisfactory skills exist across the screen. Press references for clear examples of superior service. In the New Normal, huge decisions are unfortunately made with less tangible evidence. Fewer chances to meet over coffee equates to higher levels of examination whenever interactivity does occur.
Ultimately, a decision emerges. Intellect, experience, appearance are all subjective factors. Can the other side deliver? Is this really a legitimate concern? Business success is fundamentally built upon getting those questions right! When it is ultimately time to make a business decision, no amount of coffee meetings will make that decision a slam dunk. Either trust or do not. Then act. Whether it is relationships, intuition, references, metrics, surveys, or pedigrees, the point person’s skills will be on display upon making the final business decision. Choose wisely, or analytically. Just realize that upon making the decision, the organization owns the consequences. It may still be a good idea to have a cup of coffee before delivering the final answer.
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC