Don’t hide away at home – it’s important for your mental health

One thing I’ve increasingly struggled to understand in business – and in life generally – during the Covid19 global lockdown is the reluctance of some people to engage online.

Almost daily I see someone somewhere on social media talking about how they won’t do online webinars or networking and it makes me sigh. One would think that this would be confined to the so-called Baby Boomers where only about half of them even use social media. Yet it’s not.

This worries me for a multitude of reasons apart from the sheer stubbornness to embrace the fact that the digital world is very important for us all and presents a wealth of opportunities which would be unimaginable even a decade ago.

However in business, a reluctance to engage over time could have huge impacts the longer this situation goes on – or if this situation eases, then lockdown comes again and so on until either we have immunity or there is a vaccine for this pandemic.

I know what it’s like to have a family member who is unwilling to embrace technology using the excuse “I’m too old” or “I can’t understand that can I?” because I hear it every single week. It’s just an excuse not to do something which takes someone out of their comfort zone. That’s all it is.

I’m also talking from experience here. I would not have embraced digital technology in any way unless life hadn’t forced it upon me. Why? Because I was brought up in an environment where change was not welcomed. Anything which disrupted the ‘safe status quo’ was bound to be bad or worrying.

If life has taught me anything it’s this – change comes whether we want it to or not so sticking your head in the sand or turning our back on it and pretending it’s not happening is quite frankly a pointless waste of time and energy.

I didn’t get a mobile phone of my own until 1999 and I’m a journalist. I didn’t have a laptop of my own until 2008 when I set up my own business. The only reason I had those things then was because I have a husband who is tech savvy and I had no damn choice if I wanted to be part of the modern business world.

Yet what has this world of digital done for me which I did not expect? Here are just a handful.

*It made me quite well known in my own business community. A tiny influencer if you like.

*This has led to me being booked for speaking slots and gigs across Wiltshire and the South West.

*This has not stopped now that we are online, in fact I’m being asked more not less (and no, I won’t do it for free).

*I’ve kept in touch with friends, relatives and business contacts which would have been impossible in any other way. This is even more important now.

*I’ve met a long lost cousin from the other side of the world and we’ve even met up in real life so I could take her on a little Somerset tour of our shared ancestry.

*I’ve got to a level where I’m asked regularly by potential clients to work with them, purely because of my online persona. This is called ‘making sales’.

We are in a period of change now and we have two choices – stick our head in the sand and deal with the change that that behaviour will bring – or we face it head on.

Please, please if you find phrases coming out of your mouth like “I don’t like Zoom, it’s insecure” – don’t use that as an excuse to do nothing. Use another platform. There is always a way.

Connecting through webinars online is hugely valuable and in my case has allowed me to replace some of the income I have lost through Covid19 – through no fault of my own. I’m not going to spout big numbers, I’m going to talk survival.

When you refuse to meet online with people you would normally meet with in the real world what you are actually saying to them?

*I don’t do Zoom actually translates to ‘you’re not important enough for me to make the effort to overcome my fear of looking foolish’.

*I don’t like online networking it’s not the same – translates to I’m not confident enough to come across well in an online environment (how do you think your potential client will feel about that?)

*I won’t be joining the meeting because I don’t like that form of communication translates to “I don’t really care about any of you enough to make an effort”.

Those may not be your motives but a portion of your contacts will feel that you don’t care and caring is a must at the moment.

Finally remember this. If you are in isolation and you miss human contact outside of your household – this is the best you are going to get. For your own mental health, step up, overcome your fears and get a grip. We are all learning here – we are all learning together. Most of us would rather forgive someone’s mistakes while they are learning something new- than feel like we don’t matter.