I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to business. I believe that nothing builds relationships better than sitting down together in person, enjoying a pint together and having a good old chin wag.
But when the pandemic hit the UK and we went into lockdown, I begrudgingly moved to online meetings.
I’ll be honest – it’s been ok.
Once I got the hang of setting a background and got myself a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones I discovered meeting online wasn’t so bad at all.
But I still resisted online networking.
I believe that Millennium is built on relationships. We’re not a faceless forwarder just churning through clients and cargo as fast as we can. We genuinely care about our customers – and the other forwarders that we collaborate with.
In a normal year, I put a lot of effort into maintaining these relationships. I travel to all four corners of the globe to visit clients and meet the forwarders we work with.
Then there’s the networks…
Every year I’d usually attend a few network events to connect with new partners and catch up with old ones.
But with a travel ban in the UK and lockdowns all over the world that’s been a big no-no this year too.
For a long time, I put off joining the networks online. I knew it wouldn’t be the same and quite frankly I wasn’t sure it would work. But last month I finally caved and decided to give it a go.
I signed up to attend an online global conference and secured my own virtual booth with Sky Alliance. Over a few days, people came and “sat” in my booth with me and chatted about all things freight.
And do you know what?
It was brilliant.
Despite being thousands of miles away we still managed to connect and make some really great relationships.
Even though I couldn’t travel to Asia, Europe and Latin America in person to meet my partners, it was actually wonderful to meet them online and talk about global business once again.
I’d forgotten how great it is to simply interact with like-minded people in the world of freight.
It’s reinforced why I feel so blessed to be a freight forwarder with friends all over the world – and made me realise just how much I miss travelling and connecting.
So I guess I was wrong.
I thought I knew that online networking wouldn’t work.
I thought I knew that it would be awkward and stunted and a waste of time.
But in reality, it was a hugely valuable experience that has helped to grow my business.
Being in business is all about getting out of your comfort zone and being open to being wrong about stuff.
What have you been forced to try this year that you were pleasantly surprised to be wrong about? I’d love to hear about it…