2020 has been a year that we will not forget. It is probably not the first year that those words have been uttered, we have a feeling that for 2020, for once, it is probably true! Before we shut the door on lockdowns, toilet roll shortages, and home schooling, we wanted to revisit the positives of 2020. What are the keepers?
No.1 - Listening
We are passionate about listening, so it is no surprise that this is top of our list. The importance of listening cannot be overstated. When done well, it is powerful. It can build psychological safety in teams, leading to stronger cultures and happier employees; it can fuel diversity initiatives by creating an environment of curiosity and belonging; last, but definitely not least, it can help us get closer to our clients.
2020 was the year we listened.
For some this was true pre- 2020, but there seems to have been a universal acceptance this year that we need to listen more deeply and more honestly. I have heard many say that hard times call for soft skills and active listening seems to have been at the top of many firm’s list of where to start.
We would say all times call for soft skills, which is why this is a keeper!
We have written a lot about client listening this year: from listening with ting, through to how unconscious bias creeps in, as well as covering practical problems such as whether to record conversations. For the full round up see here.
No. 2 - LinkedIn
Again, this is not something that landed in 2020, but this year does seem to have been the one where LinkedIn has come into its own. Gone are the days were LinkedIn was merely a place to connect with clients and contacts. Interaction has moved beyond posting firm updates or shouting about the latest industry award that their firm has won.
2020 generated an authenticity on social media that was not there before. Yes, some struggled, but many have embraced it whole-heartedly. People have changed their photographs to reflect the casual attire that is the work from home norm. . People are sharing behind the scenes insights (from cats on laps, to make-shift desks on ironing boards, through to pre-webinar nerves).
LinkedIn is more than just an online C.V. now.
LinkedIn has become a place to network, and not just with people you know. It has become a space where you can reach out for virtual coffees or where you can create links that strengthen and enrich your brand. We hope this newfound love for LinkedIn is one of the keepers!
No. 3 – Events
Events? Hang-on, how can 2020 be the year of events?
Okay, so whilst events (virtual alternatives excluded) have been the big absentee this year, something rather special has happened in 2020. We have started to question “why?”. Client Talk is focused on finding the why in everything we do. We strive to link any action back to the goal that the action is working to achieve.
Prior to 2019, many professional services firms had fallen into a rut. Events took place “because we always go there” or because “our clients expect an invite to [fill in as appropriate]”.
For us there is a holy grail to events. Content, speakers, venue. It is usually one of those three things that drives attendance. Many firms over-rely on one or other of these. Worse still, some fail to connect the holy grail to the audience. Tragically, the question some firms ask is: “I want to go to the rugby, which client would come with me?”, when they should be asking:
"What do the people I want to engage with like?".
Despite the rush of firms putting on webinars in April, by the end of 2020, when attendance started to trail off, firms started to be creative. They have had to think hard about what will draw their audiences in. “Because we have always done it” was no longer a safety net to hide behind. Firms are trying to create a virtual experience for their audiences. Those that are doing it well are being noticed.
We hope that this creative thinking around events will be here to stay. For our friends in the events industry, we hope that face-to-face events resume, but hopefully they will be the highlight of the firm year, a little bit special, and have the client’s needs at the fore.
No. 4 – Collabs
2020 was the year we realised we are stronger together. There have been so many collaborations that we have seen that empower and delight. Burger King encouraging people to buy a Big Mac?
Okay, so there perhaps there has not been anything quite so extreme in professional services arena. However, from cross-over podcasts, through to joint webinars, examples abound.
We love collaborations. They enable us to think differently. They enable us to grow our offering by taking ourselves out of the echo chambers that we can all unwittingly end up in. This year Client Talk has collaborated with Hansard Coaching on our podcast series, we have teamed up with Doing Diversity Differently to deliver training on D&I, we have also created collaborations for our clients that have strengthened their brands and led to increased recognition for what they do.
Collaborations for us are a keeper.
No. 5 – Authenticity
Everyone is just a little bit more human. The cats on laps, were accompanied by children on zoom. The virtual backgrounds in March, gave way to children’s duvets and the vase of dried flowers in the spare room come May. The ties and suits changing to slippers and jumpers.
Everyone is just a little bit more human. Let’s hope that is the biggest keeper of them all!