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Post-COVID business development; what needs to be done differently

Don’t ignore what was learned during the pandemic

June 9, 2022  By Dave Mercer

Dave Mercer

Two years ago, in this column I talked about what changes we needed to make to our business development strategies in the time of COVID. Specifically, I addressed how to be visible, exhaust your rolodex, and pivot during the “new normal.” But now Canada and the world are starting to open up again. In-person events and meetings are happening, and air travel is picking up. Should we abandon our COVID strategies and simply go back to what we were doing before?

In a word – no. Although our world is reopening, it has also changed. More people are working remotely and spending less time in an office. Video conferencing will increasingly replace business trips. The new normal is now a hybrid of how we did business pre-COVID and during COVID. Our business development strategies need to be a hybrid as well. Let’s look at the three basics of business development that we did in 2020 and see what we need to be doing differently in 2022 and beyond.

1 – Be visible
Businesses need to be visible in the marketplace to survive. In the past we relied heavily on in-person activities like trade shows and networking events. During COVID we needed to find ways to get noticed online.  


As we look forward, my best advice is to not let up on your digital marketing efforts even though you may be participating in more in-person events. The items we discussed, like your website, social media activity, Google ads and Google My Business presence are just as important in the hybrid business world as they were during COVID. Use your digital marketing to support your in-person sales and marketing and use the presentations and experiences from in-person events to create content for your digital marketing. The trade-off is you’ll be visible to a lot more potential customers and clients.

2 – Exhaust your rolodex
Just because you’re back out on the road doesn’t mean you should stop reaching out to people online. During COVID there was a lack of networking events, and I recommended “exhausting your rolodex” to connect with your existing contacts. The idea wasn’t to stop finding ways to network or make connections (see pivoting), but at a time when we were all isolated it made sense to reach out and check in with people.

As networking events come back, it may be tempting to put away that rolodex. Do so at your own peril. Maintaining relationships is a major key to business success, and anything that you had put in place to that end during COVID should remain on your to-do list. Getting out and making new connections is an important part of sales, but business more than often comes from existing relationships. Keep reaching out.

3 – Pivot
It became one of the most overused words from the last two years, but during that time we all had to pivot in one way or another to keep doing business. Whether it was sending clients craft beers for a virtual Friday Happy Hour (as a client of mine did to great success), or finding new ways to network online, the key to success was creative, “out of the box” thinking.

The business world is still shifting. The effects of the pandemic are far from over as we all face supply chain issues and labour shortages. We don’t know what normal is going to look like in the near or distant future and that is why pivoting will continue to be an important part of business development. The most successful businesses will be the ones that respond to the ever-changing environment through creative thinking and, of course, pivoting.  

Dave Mercer, P. Geo, is a geologist and general manager of the BCGWA.

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