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For several years now, I have made offhand comments about how lucky I am to be an extrovert who “recharges” via Zoom. Last week, someone challenged my generalization for the first time and got me started reflecting on whether I really just got lucky or if there is a reason why Zooming worked so well for me during the pandemic. Given that I decided to write this article, I think it is fair to assume that I found more to say than “boy am I lucky”…
Those of you who are very familiar with Belleview will know that I really started focusing on the business full time at the start of 2020 and was heavily focused on business development when the pandemic hit. As my most recent business development tool, I had just joined ProVisors in March of 2020 and so the start of the pandemic found me, bluntly, isolated and lonely but with sudden access to 5,000+ new colleagues just waiting for a connection!
ProVisors has historically been centered around in-person interactions but the organization did a great job of pivoting on short notice with members Zooming away days after most states shut down. I was also lucky enough to have the fantastic Jen Lee in my corner, encouraging me to explore the network’s potential from day one and so I set out to attend as many meetings as I could manage. By April, I was averaging three ProVisors meetings and ten one-on-one conversations per week. Suddenly, I was no longer lonely and I was full of energy and enthusiasm again!
For anyone less familiar with ProVisors or how I approached one-on-ones back then, I am talking about an average of 15-20 hours of Zoom time just associated with ProVisors. Common wisdom says that that should have been a quick recipe for burn out so why am I still struggling to cut back on my networking Zooming as other demands appear for my time?
I believe that the secret lies in how earnestly I wanted to make a connection in each and every Zoom session. While these were business-oriented conversations, I was learning about entirely new fields and people who came from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Did I know that estate planning lawyers existed before I joined ProVisors? Of course! Did I have any idea of how you ended up practicing as an estate planning attorney or the slightest clue of how many sub-specialties there are in the field? Not even a little.
Piled on top of this genuine curiosity was the broad understanding I had for most of 2020 that COVID would be “over” any day now. So Zooming was all about building connections deep enough with local people that they would want to meet face to face when that was possible or strong enough that they would weather the return to in person focus once we were again isolated in different regions.
Reflecting back, I think that I can summarize the recipe I found so successful in 3 parts:
I would be lying if I said that every Zoom call I joined between March 2020 and today was fulfilling, uplifting, and energizing. For one, it is not always possible to pull together all three elements of the recipe for each and every call. Deviations can also have a compiling effect for me – feeling low energy going into a call can reduce my desire to connect with someone else, which lowers my energy, which reduces my desire to connect, etc.
But the vast majority of 1:1 conversations still pump me up and I continue to prefer Zoom over in person for many circumstances. Plus, now that I have written this out for myself, I can be more intentional in my scheduling moving forward to give myself better odds of an energizing call every time I join a video call. In a world full of Zoom fatigue, I am hoping that sharing my recipe for Zoom energizing will help at least a few more people end their days with some extra smiles behind them.