Humans are gregarious. We like to gather in groups, have a good time. The coronavirus pandemic has taken that off the table for a while. Advisors know they need to be calling clients during these difficult times. You’ve done that. Now, what else can you do to productively occupy yourself while social distancing?
Let’s assume you live in an area where “shelter in place” is the new reality. You have several powerful tools in your arsenal. The phone. Mail. Texting. Skype. Email. Social media. Here are some ideas:
1. The virtual dance party. Didn’t expect that one as the lead idea! A client of an advisor friend, someone who always has a party to attend, has arranged a virtual dance party with other friends. She is using either group FaceTime chats or freeconferencecall.com to bring friends together, presumably split screen, to take turns acting as DJ, playing music in their background as everyone dances in their own homes.
2. The virtual dinner party. How tough can this be? We have FaceTime. So do friends. We “invite” another couple. We set two place settings for ourselves at our dining room table, with the iPad at the other end. They do the same at their home. At the appointed time, we all “arrive” and enjoy dinner together.
3. Calling distant relatives. You get Christmas cards from people you haven’t seen for years. There’s a connection, so you each keep sending them. This is an ideal opportunity to call, text or email, finding out how they are coping with the coronavirus pandemic. They will likely ask what you are doing. Your “I’m calling all my clients…” explanation tactfully reminds them what you do for a living.
4. Friends in foreign countries. You know the international media is portraying the U.S. as in crisis with people hoarding toilet paper rolls. When we visited our local supermarket these past two weekends, I took pictures of few people shopping, pallets of paper towels and toilet paper on display and lots of bins filled with fresh vegetables. Let them know what they see on TV isn’t always absolutely factual. We tend to sensationalize news.
5. Call your neighbors. It’s the “neighborly” thing to do. Make sure they are OK. Do they have everything they need? Are they in good health? How are their other family members?
6. Social media. You absolutely wouldn’t prospect during a crisis, but you might check in on people you know who have the potential to be clients. Check in on those who don’t have potential, either. Ask if they are working from home? They will ask you the same question.
7. Places where you shop. During normal times, I visit the bank often. Now I call when something needs attention I can’t address online. I thank them for coming in to work, accepting the connected risks. The same goes for calling friends with businesses you know are not open because of government imposed restrictions. You know they and their staff are going through a tough time. It’s an opportunity to show your sympathy.
8. Your sick friends. It’s a fact of life — we all know friends who are battling cancer or another serious disease. We know people living in nursing homes. “Out of sight, out of mind” means they are easy to forget. Pick a time when you don’t have anything else scheduled. Call with the intention of chatting for a while. Prepare a mental list of what’s been happening in your life. Be prepared to carry the conversation. Try to find the funny side of things that have happened in your life. You want the call to end with a smile on their faces.
Being told to stay at home affects us differently. Some focus on work. Others on binge-watching TV. Others on household projects. This is a good time to think of others first and do some outreach. It might lead to business, but it should definitely put a smile on people’s faces.