Read the title of this blog again. So, are you now thinking about Madonna and the material world? Pause….get the song out of your head.
Okay – now back to reality or virtual reality.
How has this world of the Covid19 Pandemic affected you? Since mid-March, millions of people have had to change the way they work, the way they meet with prospects and customers, the way they network with peers, the way they implement, and sell their products and services. The list can go on and on. These are only some of the ways life has changed in the workspace, let alone the way we now have family gatherings, weddings, funerals, order food, workout, have medical examinations, meetings with our lawyers, go to church, or temple. With all these changes, I want to focus on learning, conferences, and networking. How has this pandemic changed these items? This is my experience, and I am sure, although it mirrors many others, you have your own experience too. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences too.
What have I been doing to connect while living in this virtual world? Using technology like, Teams, Zoom, and just the phone, I have set up “Covid19CheckIns”. These are 15 to 20-minute meetings I set up every few weeks with people in my professional world. We only spend time talking about life, nothing work-related. We share about the shows we are watching, the food we are making, the games we are playing, and other exciting things about life. The benefit of this is the connection with others. When I network with others and chose to partner with others, I want to know them. I want to be able to trust them a bit more and this type of meeting takes it to the next level. Forcing these to happen, not only breaks up the day but also helps me realize we are all people beyond our work.
Selling virtually and working with others in our organization virtually was something I have been doing for a long time. With a geographical reach of the entire United States, using conference calls to do most of the meetings was always the way we would do it. The change for me now has been setting new boundaries though. Using the Microsoft Insights tool has helped me a lot too. Setting focus time on my calendar, reviewing tasks, changing meetings to 20 minutes instead of 30 and 45 instead of 60, is the only way to take back your calendar. Interestingly, with the virtual world, and not going to physical meetings, seems to open more time on your calendar. You could have more meetings ending and starting very close together. As a result, placing block out times on your calendar, to remember to stretch, eat, and just stay caught up is a critical and now purposeful act that must be done.
While I was part of the leadership team at IAMCP we launched the Virtual Chapter. I had always pushed to have IAMCP as a virtual organization and the local chapters to become an added benefit. Ironically now, everything about IAMCP is virtual. This is not an article about IAMCP, although I use it as an example to note that virtual can work and is often better for many. I have loved attending the Virtual IAMCP meeting for years. I also loved attending the other chapters in Southern California in person too. Now I love attending meetings even more. I can not only attend these virtually (pending my calendar) but I can also attend any of the other chapters having virtual calls too. In the recent past, I have attended Tampa, Texas, and Atlanta’s meetings too. Some may think this is a lot of time, but it is not. Attending these can be done virtually and in the background. I use them as learning events – learning about partners throughout the country while learning about the topics being discussed. This provides me a chance to introduce myself to other partners throughout the United States to potentially partner with. Usually, I will have it in the background while I am doing other items often, but when a customer meeting must happen, I am able to leave and come back. Focusing on revenue generation and customer satisfaction is easier to do now during these times versus commuting back and forth and losing that time on my calendar.
This is probably the biggest area that has impacted me during this pandemic. Not going to be able to attend conferences in person. One of my favorite things about the Microsoft and Dynamics’ channel is the conferences and the networking that happens at them. Through the years of attending Inspire/WPC, BizApps Summit, UG Summit, Directions, DTA, and others, I have made great connections with people throughout the world. Not being able to break bread with them, make a toast together, dance at the after-hour networking meetings, and just sit in the lobby and talk is something I absolutely miss. With that said, the learning portion of the conferences is something that will not go away in this new world of the virtual conference. This week is Inspire for Microsoft. I look forward to seeing how well it works out. Other conferences like DirectionsNA and UG Summit have both rescheduled for later in the fall. UG Summit being hybrid while Directions is taking the in-person approach, as of now. I am not sure how I will be attending these, virtually, in-person or not at all, mostly due to their financial ROI models to me just are not making enough sense to commit to them. BizAppsSummit this year was fantastic. The cost (Free), the tools used to present, and the content all made it a great event and I am even going back to its content now several months later. Several new conferences have evolved due to this world of Pandemic. LeadershipGoesBeyond has had monthly events and they have been rich and full of amazing content. DynamicsCon is also a new event in September that is specifically for Dynamics365 and is by the community for the community. Obviously, networking is very different when it comes to these virtual events. Although connecting is possible depending on the delivery tool, learning seems to be the main focus of these. Content is king for these and just makes my first part of this article even that much more important, Check-Ins.
Thoughts on Living in a Virtual World?
Let me know your thoughts about how this Pandemic has changed the ways you work. Let me know your thoughts about conferences, IAMCP, and how you are keeping focused on revenue growth and building your businesses. Lastly – let me know if you want to have a Covid19CheckIn. Most of all….stay healthy, stay connected, you are not alone in this mess!