Small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many business owners running physical storefronts, it means shutdown and transitioning what you can to the online space.
For others, it means having your staff work remotely and conduct business operations entirely from home.
With most of the world holed up at home, lots of work and client and customer relationships will be conducted through the internet. However, just because face-to-face interaction has been postponed, doesn’t mean your business has to stop.
Below you’ll learn how you can host virtual meetups to offer courses and consultations, while newly remote workers (and business owners making the transition) will learn what virtual tools they can utilize to minimize loneliness and enhance communication throughout this trying time.
How to start hosting virtual meetups
When it comes to relationships, you’ll need to consider both your customers and your staff. Our guide covers both options:
- How to maintain business-to-customer relationships remotely.
- How to create a “virtual office” to stay productive and sane.
- How to quickly get started with virtual meetups.
How to maintain business-to-customer relationships remotely
Even with “social distancing” you can remain at the top of your customer’s mind. A lot of work that used to take place face to face can be adapted to the online space.
If this transition seems difficult, then you can at the very least, utilize virtual tools to readily communicate with your customers.
This difficult and challenging period is a time for leaders to step up, show your heart and offer support, and build a real human relationship with your customers and clients.
Here are some virtual tools that can help.
1. Offer virtual courses/consultations
If you’re selling products, courses, or even consulting, you can transition this into the online space.
For example, a lot of gyms are currently live streaming at-home workouts or creating entire collections of online courses to offer their members. Some are applying membership fees to course access, while others are offering them entirely for free.
2. Use live streaming tools for canceled events
Many live events, concerts, conferences and more have been canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future. But, this doesn’t mean events have to be canceled 100%.
A lot of people are at home, looking for ways to fill their time. One way you can deliver a similar experience (while still keeping people safe and healthy) is by live streaming your events.
For example, a lot of concert venues and musicians are live streaming concerts from empty venues. Some are making the listening experience entirely free, while others are charging for tickets, like a traditional concert.
The same can be applied to those running conferences or meetups. Instead of attending in person, you can use streaming tools like Facebook Live, Instagram TV and Periscope to bring speakers and guests together.
3. Create live educational webinars
Webinars are not only a powerful sales tool, but they’re a great way to deliver useful information in a group setting. A webinar is essentially a virtual PowerPoint presentation.
If you feel uncomfortable selling products or services at a time like this, you can always just create an educational webinar to help support your customers and clients.
Think about what you can offer virtually that’ll truly help ease the stress and strain. It’s all about support and getting through this together, stronger and kinder than ever.
How to create a “virtual office” to stay productive and sane
Companies that have the ability are doing their best to transition to a virtual office setting. Remote work poses a unique set of challenges. It’s not all working from the couch wearing sweatpants.
Here are a few ways you can better conduct your business virtually, enhance productivity, and give your employees a sense of belonging they felt at work every day.
1. Have daily “face-to-face” virtual meetings
Being able to see the face of a coworker can go a long way towards easing the loneliness of working from home. Consider conducting daily virtual meetings.
You can have your entire team on board for a quick daily check-in, or even allow workers to engage in small virtual meetings throughout the day.
2. Utilize team-based instant messenger platforms
You don’t have to constantly hold virtual meetings to keep your employees connected.
There are a variety of virtual online chat tools you can use, so your workers can communicate instantly. You can create chat groups based upon different departments, or even create team-specific chats to share documents, communicate instantly, and more.
3. Use online tools for virtual brainstorming sessions
If your team relies on collaboration and brainstorming sessions to get work done, you don’t have to just rely on a Google Doc that’s shared with a few team members.
These tools allow for real-time brainstorming, mind mapping, team voting, and offering feedback.
Don’t let projects come to a halt because they require idea generation and intense collaboration. Take these meetings and creative sessions online instead.
4. Schedule meetings across time zones with digital tools
Your team is probably more spread out than you’re used to. Right now your workers are probably on different schedules and maybe even spread across time zones.
Just input times that work for you and send the calendar off to your team members and have them choose an open spot. These tools will also automatically calculate meeting times across time zones for stress-free scheduling.
How to quickly get started with virtual meetups
If you’re not familiar with using virtual tools to meet with clients or work remotely, then there might be a little bit of a learning curve.
Instead of trying to incorporate every tool mentioned above, start simple.
Here’s are a few quick tips to get started with virtual meetups:
- Meet your audience where they hang out most. Chances are Facebook or Instagram Live will be the easiest tools to start with.
- Poll your teams for how they’d prefer to communicate. Slack and Google Hangouts are very easy and intuitive to use.
- Don’t overstrain yourself trying to communicate across every virtual medium. Think in terms of effectiveness and service.
- Offer team members multiple methods of virtual communication to better fit into remote work schedules.
Finally, here’s a quick look at all the tools mentioned above:
- Google Hangouts. Great for conducting virtual meetings and one-on-one video calls.
- Skype. Great for one-on-one meetings, calls, and virtual hangouts.
- Facebook and Instagram live. Used for impromptu live sessions broadcasted to your followers.
- Periscope. A live steaming app to host video calls and give viewers a look at your life in real time. Host webinars. The perfect way to create an educational presentation to help clients and customers.
- Zoom. A tool for speedy web conferences, video calls, and even webinars.
- Slack. A team collaboration tool for instant messaging, document sharing, and more.
- Teams. A Microsoft app that integrates with the Office 365 suite to improve team collaboration.
- Popplet. Mind mapping software you can use to collaborate with your team.
- Lino. A fun app to create a virtual post-it board for your teams.
- PollUnit. Create team polls to collect feedback and determine which direction to move forward.
- Calendly. A scheduling tool to help schedule meetings across time zones.
- Doodle. A cool and creative app to schedule meetings with your team and offer feedback.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how you can use virtual meetups to stay in touch with clients, educate customers, and better manage your remote teams.
The transition we’re in is stressful and uncertain. But by utilizing virtual communication and virtual hangouts, you can stay in touch with your team and connect with your customers and clients.