construction networking

Everyone has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In trying to stop the spread of the disease, it has fundamentally reshaped the way we all communicate. Applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams went overnight from relative obscurity, to essentials. Business has had to go through a transformation to operate in the current climate.

For business development experts, whose roles rely deeply on networking and B2B communication this has meant an even more radical shift. While networking was previously done through face to face events and conferences, it has taken on a new digital life. Online conferencing, once a relatively small industry share, has grown to dominate near the entire active market.

The webinar format has also seen a resurgence, where industry leaders can provide thought leadership and market intelligence through a digital medium. Both text chat and VOIP solutions provide ample opportunity for delegates to network and pose questions to the seminar leaders.

The formerly dominant presence of travel involved in forming business relationships has been rendered impossible. Meetings and negotiations have had to become interfaced within digital methods.

Head of Business Development at architecture and design practice Stride Treglown, Rachel Bell described the long-term impacts:

I think that it could lead to some lasting changes and stronger relationships. I’m forced to question the wisdom of so much travel and whether there is a workable alternative to face-to-face meetings. Fewer journeys is clearly in line with our ambitions for mitigating climate change, and it seems at least possible that, by altering our behaviour and expectations, it is possible to build and maintain relationships without so many actual meetings.”

There have been questions if the recent crisis has in many ways just accelerated the move to more technological based solutions. Professionals have shared different views on the permanence of these shifts and Gerard Toplass, Chief Executive of framework provider PAGABO, has portrayed the transition as a more temporary change but echoed a similar sentiment:

During the lockdown period we have of course had to quickly adapt how we operate in the short term but haven’t let this impact our long-term strategy. We as a business want to continue to lead the charge of collaboration and thought leadership. For us it’s all about having a technology first approach, collaborating with our ecosystem and leading the industry wide discussion – and recent events have only amplified the need to do this.

A whole new wave of communication methods is facilitating the industry conversations of today, what is becoming clearer is that there will not be a simplistic “return to normal” moment. It is unlikely as well that when traditional options reappear there will be the same level of adherence to the methods adopted out of necessity. There is a real opportunity to make progress with the way business development is conducted by learning from both.