At a glance

  • Networking – the ‘old normal’ of face-to-face is back. Or is it?
  • You will continue to need to engage with online networking
  • The Metaverse is coming!

Since the pandemic began, the last couple of years have been horrible in all sorts of ways. Along with the sad and numerous deaths caused by Covid 19, the broader impacts of the virus and the measures to control and mitigate it have been profound and long-lasting. One such impact was the sudden transition from the old normal of face-to-face networking to networking virtually on Zoom or Teams and other platforms.

babelMonkey is proud to have been, at least at a local level in Kent/South East London, a pioneer of the networking ‘pivot’ to online networking. Accustomed as we were to being represented at a range of face-to-face networking groups, such as BoB, BNI, Federation of Small Businesses, and more, we were part of the set up of ‘Business Continuity Support’, a then entirely online new gathering of, frankly, shaken and suddenly isolated business people whose old networks were taking time to rise to the challenge of creating online gatherings. That group rapidly became a focal point for local business people and – this being the nature of Zoom – others from farther away who wanted communities to engage with.

As 2022 began and triple vaccination rolled out to most people in the UK, social distancing and other rules banning or impeding in-person meetings were gradually removed.

Face-to-face networking gatherings of the typical 20-50 attendees are back, as are large-scale business Expos and conferences.

Networking is essential to growing business and contacts for many people, and questions can be asked even now the ‘old normal’ appears to have been restored. Is networking now the same as it was? Will networking stay as it is now in future?

We are a digital marketing and PR company, and of course, this is a compelling question for our own business development. The return to substantial face-to-face networking is a relief for us as human beings. We are social animals. It is also much quicker to grow to like, know and trust someone whom we have met face-to-face. One thing we did find was that our ‘elevator pitch’ in which we promise to make our clients’ blogs “the monkey’s nuts” and to release their inner chimp, went down well in both in-person and online formats because it comes across as fresh, cheerful and heartfelt – because that is what we are.

Our take on the situation is that online networking has expanded and is here to stay. The ability to connect with people countrywide and worldwide, without any travel, in a world facing environmental pressures, can only be used more and more. It is also true, and local Rotary Clubs are an example, that some have found a blend of face-to-face meetings alternating with Zoom gatherings is more inclusive and convenient than just going down one path. Nor can we rule out new events shattering the old normal of face-to-face gatherings once more, so developing and keeping skills for online networking is sensible. There are also communities whose health is such that they cannot be vaccinated. For these, enabling them to interact online will be a lifeline.

As some of us at babelMonkey are of the geek disposition (working with scientists and tech companies rubs off) we are also well aware that there are new developments on the IT horizon that have the potential to change things further. One of these is the rise of artificial intelligence. Another is the rise of the Metaverse. As this article from the BBC suggests, Facebook – or, now, Meta – wouldn’t be hiring 10,000 tech staff in Europe if it wasn’t taking it seriously. What they do say, in brief, is that “the metaverse is the next evolution of social connection.” You will hear more from us on this in future, as our aim at babelMonkey is always to be up-to-date and future-proofed for our clients.

babelMonkey Top Tip:

If you’re not confident about presenting in front of a group, contact your local Toastmasters. As their website says, “Most clubs allow guests to attend for free, and there’s no pressure to participate until you are ready and comfortable.”