When I look back on the past year, there are a lot of things I’d like to leave in the rear view. I used to drive to meetings and see people in real life. I’m sure you did too. Sometimes, I would even fly to see a client, or go to an event, or conference. From the safe confines of my inner world, I am nostalgic for that not-too-distant past, prolific with in-person interactions. There was a lot going on in the outside world back then. I hope we will soon be back at it, and able to choose where we go, who we see, how we get there, and how many people are in the room.
In the meantime, we continue to navigate this strange situation, and the challenges that come with it, like how to move a new business relationship forward. You ask that tension filled question. You know the one…
“Your zoom, or mine?”
There’s an awkward pause as you wait for a for a sign, any sign, that it’s okay to slip your code into the other person’s in box.
Admit it. You’ve asked it. We’ve all asked it. There, waited with anticipation, alone in your at-home office/kitchen table. Maybe wearing pajama pants, maybe not. Hoping the next message refresh will signal that greatly anticipated next move.
Is it sad I’m writing a post about scheduling a meeting like it’s a steamy scene from a romance novel? Perhaps. But when we have had to settle for almost no in-person contact, with just two screens, and many miles between us, we can be left wanting. I long for the warm embrace of a firm introductory handshake, and business appropriate eye contact.
I think most people have worked the, um, kinks out of virtual meetings. It used to be awkward asking colleagues, or even strangers to connect with us that way. But things are much more out in the open now. Like anything that emerges from the shadows, virtual meetings are now the norm. So much so, I wonder whether if we will ever completely go back to our old ways, even when we are allowed to.
I have worked from a home office for the entire 19 years I have run my business. Early on, I became aware of the advantages of the arrangement. For me, there were less distractions, and control over noise levels, temperature, ergonomics, and hours of operation. My transition away from a traditional business setting was positive from the beginning.
I became adept at connecting with people outside my bubble, doing business with clients in different cities, and even in different countries, mostly via phone and email. For many years, the flexibility and portability of a laptop and a smart phone were all I needed to succeed. Regardless of the advantages of this flexible work environment, in-person interactions were still important and essential.
I will admit, despite the excessive amount I miss being around people, I can see the benefits of less travel in relation to time savings, and even emissions. In mere moments we can teleport through time and space to another dimension and see nearly anyone, anywhere, anytime. If the future was waiting just around the corner a year ago, it is certainly here now. We have arrived.
Last week I met a guy in Toronto via Zoom. In the olden days of 2019, I would likely not have seen him “in person” for months, or even a year. In the span of a half hour, with no plane ticket, rental car, or hotel stay, we were able to talk about a health compliant, fun, amazing concept I am bringing to the live entertainment space, and discuss the opportunities for meeting the marketing objectives of some of his clients. I think we might have even hatched another brilliant idea in the process. This interaction all started with that burning question…
”Your zoom, or mine?”
He sent me his zoom code. I accepted the invitation. The rest is history.