As I write here in Sydney, we are entering our 5th week of lockdown. Most people are unable to leave their houses as the Government has set new restrictions due to the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19. Other than essential workers, most are working from home. Parents are forced to be part-time teachers as they home school their children. Many businesses are finding it difficult to operate at all. The result is a lot of pressure on business owners who were just getting back on their feet after the 2020 lockdown and economic slowdown. It is harder the stay motivated when you are not sure whether your plans and efforts are going to bear fruit. The uncertainty is frustrating.
Dangers of isolation
Isolation is a very real problem the longer this ‘lockdown’ goes. Isolation compounds everything. It is not healthy for us as humans to be alone and mostly self-focused for very long. Isolation feeds anxiety. It is very easy to lose hope. It is ironic that while we seek to evade the physical effects of Covid-19, we are in danger of creating a mental health epidemic that hurts many more people.
Finding ways to be more connected is vital for everyone, especially for business owners.
7 ways to stay well connected during lockdown
I have been pondering the different ways my wife and I have been staying connected with people in our world over the last 5 weeks. I think we are even more connected than usual.
Here is the list of ways I have been connecting:
- Business Networking Groups.
- I am a member of BNI Chapter which usually meets in Parramatta and is now continuing to meet online. Business referrals are being passed each week. There is a social conversation over drinks on Friday afternoons as well
- I am also a member of Sydney Hills Business Chamber. I lead one of the small groups that meet fortnightly online for now. It is a great way to stay connected. The Chamber is working hard at creative networking events over Zoom in place of our normal face2face events each month. A great group of people who are supportive and helpful all the time, and especially now.
- Reach out to clients. I have made it my business to check in with my clients in between sessions to see if they need anything more from me and to help them maintain perspective.
- Reach out to my colleagues. I have gone through my contact list and reached out to anyone I know who has been affected badly by these restrictions. Just been a listening ear and a support.
- Reach out to past clients. I have gone through my records and reached out to any past clients to see how they are going.
- Online meetings each week with our Church Connect Group. We look forward to connecting with these very encouraging people every Tuesday night for 90 minutes on Zoom.
- Be aware of our neighbours. As I walk our dog each day it is easy to say ‘Hi’ across the fence to our neighbours and to people in our street. In fact, a lot of people are out walking especially in the afternoons. I think all the dogs in Sydney are loving the extra time they get with their humans during lockdown.
- Staying in touch with friends and family. Once again online mostly. Two of my daughters lives in our LGA and so, under current lockdown rules, it is possible to go for a walk with one at a time on occasion to stay connected.
Social media is a mixed bag. There is some benefit in social media connection, especially with people around the world. There is also a lot of rubbish, ranting and alarmist ‘news’ on there so it is wise to limit your browsing to short periods.
The benefits of staying connected
The mental health benefits are huge. To be reaching out to others and seeking to be a support to them is also good for me. It takes me out of isolation and helps me feel more part of community. A sense of belonging to community is a basic human need for optimum mental health.
The business benefits are also huge. During lockdown in 2020 I also had cancer treatment (chemo plus surgery) and BNI was very helpful for consistently marketing my business. In fact, I received almost $80,000 in closed business through BNI in that time.
If you are not a member of your local Business Chamber or of BNI, it has never been easier or more important to join now. Look them up online and I am confident they will be very happy to assist you to become more connected.
It’s up to you to reach out
Notice I have not waited for people to reach out to me. I have had a few friends and colleagues reach out to me, but I have not waited for them. I learned a long time ago that to make friends I need to be friendly. To be connected, I need to reach out and connect. This philosophy has served me well over many years. With this basic attitude, it has been easy to connect with people by being kind and showing an interest in them. I encourage you to pick up your phone (Or second best, send an email) and do the same.
Get over your Zoom fatigue
Zoom is better than no contact at all. Yes, I will be glad when we can get back face2face. However, for business meetings and for one-to-one business coaching, I find zoom very effective. It is not as good for groups unless they are highly structured – which is the great thing about BNI.
What are you going to do to stay well connected during lockdown?