“Alliances are created between organisations and executed to success by the people involved and their personal relationships”, I’ve written about that before. Personal relationships are essential as such for the success of alliances and partnerships.
Meeting people and being able to look at someone eye-to-eye is the best way to build and maintain relationships. In the old days, we used to meet in person a lot, it was the default mode in business, and video calls were not used as often as they are today. It all changed about two years ago when most of the world went into some sort of lockdown.
Some months ago, someone asked me: “How do you keep up alliances and maintain relationships in a post-Covid world of reduced trips and dinner engagements?” That is a fair question, most organisations won’t go back to a pre-pandemic way of working.
We now hear stories about office buildings being remodelled into meeting places rather than work places. The thought behind this is that we are all supposedly in hybrid working mode, whereby we sometimes work at home and sometimes at the office or at another meeting place. The office then becomes more of a location to meet with colleagues, partners and clients.
So how do you maintain relationships in such a world? It’s all about balance, the balance between video and in-person meetings, because nothing beats an in-person meeting!
A few weeks ago I had my first post-lockdown meeting with a person who became a client during the early lockdown days. We never met in person, always on video. We felt we knew each other pretty well, yet this time it was different; there was an additional dimension, literally and figuratively, and we both recognised that. I know our next video call will be different as well, thanks to that live meeting.
I would always advise a client to meet in person when needed and whenever possible. An alliance launch is a fundamental moment for the success of the alliance, and for building relationships. I would strongly urge you to try to bring the teams together for an in-person alliance launch. For some essential meetings you can seek out hybrid mode. Have, perhaps, one steering committee meeting in-person at your office, the next one online and the next one after that at the partner’s office – and the next one on video again. Then the meeting cadence continues in a similar, balanced way.
Even when your organisation is cutting back on trips, try to have those dinner meetings every now and then, they are one of the most valuable moments to build and maintain relationships. After all, as I’ve said, nothing beats an in-person meeting! In between the in-person meetings try to include time for personal chit-chat during your video meetings, just like you used to do in the office hallways, when you walked together to a meeting.
I’m curious to hear your perspective. What do you do to keep up alliances and maintain relationships in today’s post-Covid world?
PS: Feel free to schedule a virtual coffee with me to maintain our relationship!