Can we do business development when we can’t meet?

We are in an unprecedented time for our industry, our economy and our lives, and we face new challenges daily with seemingly little experience to fall back on. In the space of just a few days, our business had to be relocated from 14 central city offices to the living rooms, home offices and back bedrooms of over 450 staff. One of my immediate concerns was how we would “do business development, when we can’t do business development”.

Whilst I always argue that BD is about more than coffees, meetings, events, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, these do form a key part of an overall approach to work winning. We spend a lot of our time developing strategies and researching, but how would we continue engaging with our contacts and clients without the usual forums to do so?

Encouragingly, over the past 6 weeks, I have actually found the complete opposite to be true. Technology has been embraced, and in fact many people who are often more inaccessible have been open to meeting.

Another surprise has been that despite our fixed locations in front of the same little lenses, meetings have varied. Being both useful and very positive, I’ve had a range of one-to-one catchups to much larger groups, with a variety of discussions. From sector specific chats to broader subjects around themes such as site due diligence, Technical Masterplanning, DFMA / MMC and sustainability, people are really embracing the opportunity to do some great BD.

At Curtins, we have begun to do some formal and informal CPDs and webinars for our clients and contacts too. Feedback for these has been positive for both the content and the digital forum, and we have plans to increase the frequency and breadth of the sessions very soon.

I have to say, it’s not all gone perfectly, and we’ve had one or two comical hiccups. Wilbur, our family cocker spaniel, has been heard barking at the postie in one or two of my calls, and my son, Seth rolled his way into a video on his toy car, stopping long enough to give a wave to the camera. There’s something oddly satisfying about the mix of important conversation and the chaotic nature of our home life as we try and balance the collision of the two, and somehow, this slightly more organic atmosphere seems to be working. I’m even finding that I’ve been able to talk to clients in more detail about opportunities than perhaps I would have been able to at a busy network lunch where conversations can so easily be broken off.

So, I would be delighted to meet anyone over the coming weeks as we hopefully start our journey back to some level of normality (perhaps with one or two of these new approaches continuing for at least the medium term). If you would like to meet with me either individually or alongside any of my colleagues, please get in touch.

Look forward to hopefully seeing you all over a well-earned beer soon; in the meantime, keep in touch and stay safe.