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For a guy who writes about future concepts and ways we could do business, sometimes it takes me awhile to try new things. chris article contact in contactless world pic.jpg

 

I’d never used DoorDash until the pandemic rolled in. (No, this isn’t an ad for DoorDash.) I’ll talk about them in a moment. For the last 15 years, I’ve shared how to work at a distance. Only now, people are forced to consider that reality.

 

How Do You Do Business in a “Contactless” World?

 

As a business advisor, a lot of what I do is suggest ways companies can develop marketplaces around what they sell. I’m probably most well-known for advocating the use of social networks and media tools like YouTube and podcasting and Twitter for further developing ways to interact and sell.

 

But all this time, it’s been a “gee whiz” and a nice to have.

 

When a global pandemic comes and forces governments to close businesses (most of them small, by the way), now we have to think about what it means to deliver our business remotely. The concept of “contactless” business is now a “thing.” And it has many implications.

 

 

Here are some questions for you to consider:

 

  • If you can’t sell and market face to face, what other ways can you find?

 

  • If people like your face-to-face experience, how can you recreate that online?

 

  • Not everyone loves coupons. How else can you stay top of mind for your buyers?

 

  • If people are watching more YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok while in quarantine, what can you do to reach them?

 

  • Do you have your customers’ email addresses? How will you earn them?

 

Let’s talk about this. On one hand, I know you’d rather things just go “back to normal.” But what if normal wasn’t exactly killing it for you? And nothing in life ever goes “back to normal.” It moves forward. And it changes. And eventually we accept the “new normal.”

 

Digital Business and the Digital Channel

 

If you can’t sell and market face to face, you have to reach people where they are: their inbox and on various social networks. Yes, your buyer is online. My small-town Facebook group is populated by people who are mostly over 50, for instance. B2B people are actual humans and are also online.

 

Once you accept that everyone is online, the question is: how do we earn their attention?

 

  • People like how-to content. The COVID-19 quarantine data shows that people are filling some of their entertainment time with learning and educational content. Is there an angle there for you?

 

  • People like personable content. Can you shoot video showing what’s going on at your business and how you’re serving people?

 

  • People like to belong. Can you reinforce the identity of the people you serve?

 

Before this all happened, the prevailing idea of content marketing was that it existed to give people something interesting to consume that somehow related to your product or service. While that’s still true, the adaptation in a post COVID-19 world will focus more on transporting the more personable elements of your real-life presence into an online package.

 

Understand the New Cadence of Business

 

Part of your job rolling forward is to connect with people using various digital tools so you can keep customers and prospects feeling “warm” about your offerings in between opportunities to purchase from you.

 

This is the new cadence. It’s all about staying connected between sales moments. It’s about showing your support for the community you serve. It’s about being more personable and present.

 

All your functional work to make your business work in a contactless world is still before you. How do you sell? How do you deliver? What happens with the face-to-face parts of the experience? But the way you’ll earn and keep customers involves showing people a human face from a distance using all the digital tools out there.

 

Oh, and let me tell you about DoorDash. What made the experience great wasn’t the ordering platform (which was really well done) and it wasn’t the variety of restaurants (which is fine, but you kind of expect that), but instead, it was one detail: constant contact.

 

Every step of the way, I was notified:

 

  • Five Guys has your order.

 

  • Five Guys is making your food.

 

  • Five Guys says your food is ready for pickup.

 

  • Your DoorDash driver is picking up the food.

 

  • Your DoorDash driver is near.

 

  • Your DoorDash driver is here.

 

That level of connection was better than any other detail of the process. I got what I wanted and every step of the way I was kept in the loop.

 

What a lot of people want is a connected experience with a company that matches their views and values. What they need is good fast communication all the way through the process.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

I started helping companies figure out how to manage employees remotely in the late ‘90s. chris understanding article pic.jpg

 

 

The reasons were clear: It saved time, saved money, and improved the potential hiring pool because no longer would a company be limited to talent based on proximity alone. Well, welcome to 2020 and the millions of people working remotely for managers who haven’t once trained or much considered how to be a boss from afar.

 

The Problem with Managing Remote Workers

 

Managers are worried because they don’t have any real systems or tools in place, and they can easily envision a day when deadlines fall all over the floor and they (the managers) can’t explain clearly enough what their remote teams are doing or not doing to fix the challenge.

 

It’s a reasonable fear.

 

But the solution is NOT to bury someone in project management software hell. In fact, there are so many ways to do this wrong that an entire league of management consultants exist just to fix all the bad choices managers are doomed to make in moments like these.

 

Managing Remotely Is About Facilitation – Not Control

 

The goal of management in general is to help your team accomplish their tasks. You facilitate them. Your goal is to make their work environment as fluid and frictionless as possible. You exist to block other teams from interfering with your people. You profit when your team accomplishes their tasks and projects are completed on time and within budget. And it’s your job to know enough about all that’s going on to keep your boss in the loop, but MOSTLY to the tune of “we’ve got this” or “we’re slipping a bit.”

 

Tracking hours isn’t the answer period. That’s primitive. It’s not even worth a paragraph, but oh, here we are.

 

Tracking projects and flow is important, but so much software is built in a way to become a job unto itself. Systems that require 20% of a person’s daily attention to keep populated means that you’re eating more than an hour and a half of every eight-hour workday just filling in an app. That’s almost a full day EVERY WEEK lost to “productivity tools.”

 

Facilitate Success

 

What do you really need from your team? Status updates. Deliverables. An adherence to the deadline being the deadline.

 

What do they need from you? Assistance in clearing roadblocks. Resources when deadlines can’t be met. Support when challenges interfere with clear-cut experience.

 

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” - Mike Tyson

 

There are some software tools that do this better than not. I’m very biased (I’ve had past business experiences) about Workfront as a tool because it’s built to allow input from a lot of other tools. One person wants to use Slack and another wants to use MS Project? Perfect. It all threads in. That’s the kind of tool your team needs because it means no one has to change their existing habits in terms of software.

 

There are other products out there to evaluate, and this post isn’t about software, but keep the essential detail: Flexible tools mean easier input and fewer hours wasted on accountability.

 

What is useful are small and simple status updates. In Slack or email or Teams or whatever everyone uses, send twice daily updates on projects. Keep the flow going. Workers be clear on if you’re ahead or behind or on time. Red/yellow/green works well.

 

Further, have brief meetings, not more meetings. An hour isn’t the universal meeting unit of measurement and nor is 30 minutes. Do 20. 15. 10. You’ll be amazed how much people can transfer in 10 minutes if you keep the status updates sharp. If someone’s part in that meeting requires more than a whole ten minutes, that’s an offline 1-on-1 call, not meeting material.

 

Above All Else, Facilitate Success

 

The tools won’t save you. Communication will.

 

Everyone has been gifted more time by removing their commute and all that entails. Don’t fill it back up with monotony. Lead these people to success by facilitating their interactions and give them all that extra time to do even better, more thorough work.

 

Treat your team like the winners they are.

 

You manage the best to deliver incredible results for a company that trusts your leadership. Make sure you preserve that reputation by keeping your team rolling forward.

 

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Mark Matthews is a “big wave” surfer who faces fear and uncertainty with every extreme ride he takes. And he has something important to teach us in this new coronavirus world in which we live. strauss lead pic.jpg

 

You probably have seen people like Mark on TV – those amazing, brave (crazy?), intrepid surfers who ride humungous waves in Hawaii, or Australia, or wherever the endless summer takes them.

 

Mark is profiled at the start of a great new book called, Wild Success: 7 Key Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn from Extreme Adventurers. I recently spoke with the authors, Amy Posey and Kevin Vallely, who make the point that Mark isn’t crazy at all. In fact, as they put it, he is quite rational, and the way he approaches an extreme event like Coronavirus, err, I mean riding a monster wave, is something we can all do.

 

How Mark and other extreme adventurers handle stress is by using a method called “reframing.Instead of focusing on the danger in front of him (riding a wave that could literally kill him), Mark reframes the situation into “less terrifying problems that he can solve now,noted author Amy Posey, a leadership expert in Silicon Valley with an emphasis on neuroscience.

 

So, before heading into the surf, “Mark goes through an intense mental preparation, where he scenario-plans the direst outcomes and plans ahead of time his responses. Mark analyzes what he would do if he can’t breathe, is bleeding, or gets knocked in the head. He prepares and plans for the worst far in advance, as well as right before he goes in the water, and in that way, the scary situation does not seem as scary.  Mark even brings a defibrator in the rescue boat that follows him, just in case.

 

“By cognitively reappraising the danger, Mark anticipates how he will respond to situations and reframes those scenarios into less-terrifying problems he can solve now, according to Posey and Vallely.

 

How to Reappraise Danger in Business

 

Can you use this strategy of “cognitively reappraising danger” in business? Here’s an example from the book:

 

Let’s say you are on a conference call, making a presentation and you flub it a bit. Your boss calls you out in front of everyone. One way to look at that situation is to be embarrassed, or angry, or to assume the worst about your boss’ intent.

 

But a better way, the extreme adventurer way, is to reframe it and “assume a positive intent.” Flip the situation. Maybe your boss was actually trying to help you get better at presenting. Or maybe he simply wanted to make sure the team understood what you were trying to say. The trick is to “reframe the narrative in situations you can’t control. Doing so enables you to reduce the negative emotional impact you feel and improve the clarity of your thinking.”

 

Do you see how valuable just this one simple tactic can be at this scary moment?

 

Chunk down the big fear into manageable ideas. Plan for how to deal with them. See yourself handling and managing them. Instead of feeling like a victim of a pandemic, reframe your thoughts and look for the opportunity for your business, in your ability to lead, in your chance to help your team.

 

As Vallely told me, “Emotions can be contagions too. Your positivity will spread among your team, just as your negativity will. And as a leader, how you act, how you put yourself out there is critical, especially now. If you show confidence you will sow confidence.”

 

The adventurers profiled in the book have a saying: “Nothing is considered a failure in an adventure.” It all is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to have stories to tell (and boy will we have some stories to tell).

 

The end result is that, yes, we are in uncertain, frightening times. But the intrepid adventurer – and the intrepid business leader – can use uncertainty as an opportunity to innovate, reframe, re-label, learn, grow and teach.

 

Cowabunga indeed.

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Askan Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss steve strauss headshot.png

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

 

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