Going back to normal is no longer an option. Even if you wanted to, why would you settle for normal? The global pandemic has changed things.
With this thought in mind, my question is “how ready are you to reconnect”? if you believe that you can attend an international event and everything will be normal, you might want to read on. Just to make sure you are really ready.
Make no assumptions
Reconnecting at in-person events is a new challenge. Since Covid first came along and stopped in-person events of any scale, much progress has been made to combat the global pandemic. Huge strides have taken place in advancing medicines which has led to the successful deployment of vaccination programmes across the globe.
And, with the opening of many country borders, people are starting to travel again. Plus, international events are preparing to welcome delegates once more. You can feel the energy begin to bubble again.
But it’s worth remembering that for many months past, people were advised to stay home, work remotely and only mix when absolutely essential. More than that, it’s important to remember that some people didn’t survive the virus, and a number of companies went into liquidation. They were unable to wait for the economic recovery that follows pandemics.
When you reconnect with people again, just spare a thought as to what they may have endured in the last 15 months or so. Everyone in some way, has been impacted by the Coronavirus. People have been impacted and it’s important that when you reconnect you keep this top of mind.
Use your EQ
Getting reconnected and doing it successfully means using your EQ, your emotional intelligence. You don’t know how the other person will be feeling about connecting.
It’s clear that there are people who are anxious about going out and meeting people, whether they know them or not. They do it because its’ their job or because they understand that to not do so would be detrimental to them.
However, the key point is that we need to use our EQ and, we need to be kind to each other. Not everyone you meet is going to want to be maskless. Not everyone is going to want to shake your hand and not everyone will want to be in your group photo. These are some of the common challenges of reconnecting. It will be how you respond to the situation that will help determine how successful your trip will be.
International events by their very nature, bring together people of all ages, genders, and cultures. You therefore already know that other people do not see the world as you do. But if you click your EQ into play early on you will help navigate any issues that come from meeting people.
Have a coping strategy
Before you set foot inside the conference lobby or on the trade show floor, it is worth being clear on what you are seeking to achieve by being present. Doing your homework first will be beneficial.
Make sure you know who you want to meet, why you want to meet them and what you will say. And be ready for the question that I dread “what do you do”? – it should be easy to answer but frequently isn’t. maybe you have different questions you don’t like. If so, jot them down and start working out your responses. Do not become tongue-tied, especially when you are standing in front of your key prospect.
In addition to this, have a coping strategy up your sleeve. This will help you deal with the inevitable challenges that will occur. Your connection may not turn up. They may turn up late. You might find that they don’t want to talk business but spend time getting to know you.
You will need to deal with noisy environments, such as café areas, crowded aisles or similar. Be prepared and don’t be surprised if this comes as a bit of a shock to people that have been working at home for a while.
And of course, be ready for dealing with the rude person that just comes and interrupts your chat. There is always someone and sometimes they can arrive just as you are about to clinch a contract.
But if you do your homework and have a coping strategy in place, you will be on your way to making the most of your time reconnecting in-person.
Conclusion – Be kind and reconnections will follow
The theme of the IBTM World 2021 event is “New business, new tech, new world” and the main difference of this year’s focus, compared to previous editions is that it is primarily aimed at supporting the events industry through its recovery.
The sector has been through a lot, it has suffered but is now striving to rebuild. Starting the reconnection with colleagues, clients and peers that haven’t been seen in potentially two years, is a cause to celebrate. It’s time to be present with people when we are in-person. This means giving them your full attention and not being easily distracted. Be with them and no one else.
Rebuilding contacts and supplier lists based on the changes in the industry, will take time. However, in my opinion, being mindful of the person opposite you and being kind will enable you to develop relationships that will last long after the pandemic is no more.