Business

Building Professional Relationships Amidst a Pandemic

Laying down the bricks for a solid foundation in your work relationships

“Compromise, communication, and consistency are needed in all relationships, not just romantic ones.” — Alex Elle

That statement rings true as we do our best to navigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the most harrowing one being our crippling global economy, which has been reportedly the worst recession since the Great Depression.

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In such difficult times, it has become more important than ever to foster and maintain our relationships, for working together can help us to get through it more efficiently. Besides, the impact of your actions today will determine your life after the pandemic. 

We can categorize relationships into two types — personal relationships and professional relationships. In this article, we'll be focusing on the latter, but let's just take a look at what they each entail: 

 

Personal relationships

These types of relationships consist of romantic and familial relationships as well as friendships. They arise from human beings’ psychological need of love, connection, and belonging. 

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Professional relationships

There are various types of working relationships in the workplace (colleagues can be friends too!). However, these relationships are not limited to just people within the office. They include stakeholders and clients as well. The sustenance of these relationships are a key part of what keeps your business going. 

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Now that we know the impact relationships have and the types of relationships in our lives, how do we maintain them? Relationship dynamics have changed a lot since quarantine, and gone are the days of one-size-fits-all marketing. The relationships you build and how you interact with your professional relations will decide the continuity of your business. 

Here are three different relationships that are essential to maintain in order to sustain your business: 

 

1. Business to consumer (B2C)

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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed consumer buying habits, and it's likely that these habits are going to be gone for good, meaning that businesses will have to adapt and change their ways as well when it comes to serving customers.

People are scared. With the threats of a virus that can kill and the crippling global economy, people feel worried and anxious about the uncertainty of the situation. So how do we reassure them that we’re there for them and maintain relationships with these people?

Imagine this: you're a personal gym trainer, but gyms have been forced to cease operations because of the pandemic. How can you retain your clients? 

The answer is initiative. If you take a little time and effort to check in on your clients at the same time as your previously scheduled sessions, it shows your care and sincerity towards their health, which is everyone's number one priority right now. Suggesting workouts and discussing their diet regimen even though you aren't able to physically train them can make a big difference, in contrast with not contacting your client at all throughout the quarantine period. This way, you're not just prepping for the present, but building trust and loyalty for the long run.

2. Business to business (B2B)

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Maintaining customer relations is important, but so is working with your business partners. Any other company you work with to run your business, especially your supply chain, is essential, because if their business is affected, so will yours. 

Take this for example: you run an ice cream business but your milk supply chain has been affected due to low sales. They have an oversupply of fresh milk, and not being able to sell them in time will incur more losses, which means they might not be able to continue their business. How can you help them out, if not out of kind heartedness, but to preserve your own business?

Again, it goes back to relationships. This isn't the time to be selfish — any help you give them, will ultimately help you as well. Using your business’s clientele base to promote their milk, or looking for sponsors to buy their milk and donate it to charity for corporate social responsibility initiatives, can aid your milk supply chain’s business while strengthening your bond with them. By working together and cultivating a collaborative relationship, they'll definitely be grateful and remember your support during difficult times.

3. Within the office

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Employees are the most important assets of a company. Without good employees, ideas wouldn't be able to be executed and run smoothly. However, as many were forced to work from home during quarantine, superiors’ biggest concern was work productivity, and many became overbearingly controlling to ensure that business would be minimally affected. 

Many employees complained about this issue, which was evidently due to a lack of trust between employers and employees. This proves how companies fail to emphasize and value trust-building among workers. 

In order to mend this, businesses have to take the first step as leaders to forge trust with their employees. Instead of being overbearing and controlling, try sitting down and talk about each other's needs, priorities and working styles. Be honest and transparent, and most importantly, empathize. Everyone has a personal life outside of work and different people have different responsibilities. Hence, it's important to communicate the expectations we have of each other to better understand and foster a healthy relationship. 

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The significance of relationships in our lives is undeniable, and maintaining them definitely requires effort. Of course, it takes two to tango, but no matter your role in a business, it's never bad to take the first step to build a bridge of trust for our professional relationships. The initiative and effort we take will be translated into our actions and people will certainly recognize it.

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