Here in California, the “stay at home” order was issued on Thursday, March 19. Just about everyone is shut down until April 19, if not longer. If you were actively engaging with clients on LinkedIn before the coronavirus arrived, this is not the time to stop.
Being semi-retired and working at home for the past three years has taught me the importance of structure, setting working hours, daily physical exercise and how to enjoy all that free time on your hands. After setting up a group text with 16 golf buddies, I’ve realized how tough this hiatus is going to be for fast-paced working people and how much they crave engagement.
“For some of your clients, being at home is going to be a lonely experience”
We are all in the same boat. For some of your clients, being at home is going to be a lonely experience. Some people rely on the office as their primary source of human interaction. Many of your clients will actually welcome your engagement efforts right now, but not with the usual quality content that I recommend.
Our typical engagement strategy on LinkedIn: Providing content that addresses the challenges that your clients face and offering some insights on how you can solve those problems for them. Today, everything surrounding the coronavirus — economic, health, anxiety and social issues — is their biggest challenge.
The following three engagement strategies are an act of kindness. They will also help you keep your sanity and show your clients something they may not realize: that you care about them and their wellbeing.
1. Reach out directly
It’s easy to post something about your company being ready to serve clients and prospects when all this is over, but what does that do to help anyone? Go beyond a general LinkedIn posting and reach out directly to clients and even prospects (whom you have already been engaging with) by sending a text, email or LinkedIn message to see how they are doing.
Share your own experience and tell them how you are coping with the inactivity. Obviously, keep your own situation upbeat. Give helpful suggestions about third party grocery delivery. You will be surprised how touched your clients will be that you took the time to reach out.
Have you been connecting with your friends on Zoom or another video platform? Zoom cocktail parties and gatherings are becoming increasingly popular. Talk about that with your clients and prospects. I’m finding that there is interest in video chat platforms, but many don’t know how to get started.
2. Start an online book club
Invite your clients to join an online book club. You pick the first book. Here are some suggestions:
- Set up one important rule: inspirational books only! Look for advice online.
- Aim for books under 500 pages.
- Use Zoom or a similar video chat platform.
- Schedule the meeting for two weeks out or whatever seems comfortable for the group.
- Limit the group to six participants.
- Follow online guidelines on how to run a book club meeting.
Admittedly, this could be a little risky if you pick the wrong people. Be selective about whom you invite to a book club. If you have certain clients that you get along with very well — clients that lunch with you regularly, for example — that largely mitigates the risk.
Anyone who declines (and they all might decline) will at least appreciate the invitation and the kind gesture.
3. Set up an online gaming group
I’m not a classic gamer, but plenty of people are. If you are a video game devotee, reach out to your clients and invite them to play. Chances are, you have already shared your mutual passion for online gaming with them; now is the time to act on it.
Again, some will decline, but anyone you invite will appreciate the offer.
There are some online games for non-gamers, too. Now is not the time for people to play Solitaire!
Keengamer.com provides a top 10 list of online multiplayer games that are easy to play with non-gamer friends who are stuck at home.
“People worldwide are facing some difficult days, with some cities being on quarantine or lockdowns, and others recommending social distancing to slow the spread of Coronavirus,” the author notes. “While we gamers know how to spend a few weeks at home playing our favorite games, we all might know a few friends or family members who would quickly grow bored and have nothing to do at home. It’s now up to us gamers to save the world!”
Setting up an online game of UNO should be a lot less risky than setting up a book club. In either case, the rewards could be long-lasting.
Engage thoughtfully after careful planning
If you are offering to help your clients and prospects by following my three recommendations —engaging directly, starting a book club or setting up a gaming community — be prepared to execute your plan with precision, kindness and consideration. This is no different than any other type of client entertaining.
Stay healthy, and stay active!
How is your company dealing with these unprecedented challenges? I would love to hear from you and tell your story. Contact me at [email protected]
Industry consultant Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA hired him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available for purchase. Use Discount Code B2B10 for an instant savings offer and free access to upcoming webinars related to the course. Follow the link for a free sample and info on how to order.