For many of us, Spring is a crucial time for our sales cycle. We use the many conferences as opportunities to meet current and prospective clients to strategize for the year ahead. Meeting in person is still the most effective way to create solid relationships and advance business efficiently. So, what are we supposed to do when events are being canceled as far out as the end of May, and office buildings are closing their doors to visitors?

The only thing we can do is adapt.

Adapt how we do business.

Adapt our way of thinking.

Adapt our way of connecting.

If we cannot meet face to face, we will have to meet virtually. I know, it does not feel the same, but this is the time to get creative. If you are not paying for a flight somewhere, how else could you use those funds? Why not use that money to send something to the person you were going to meet with? I think in these times when people may not even want physical deliveries, the perfect thing to do, is to send a digital gift card along with a meeting invite.

Send a Gift (Digitally)

Not only is it the perfect incentive because it can be digital and thoughtful, his study by Blackhawk, showcases the success of gift cards as customer incentives “Of the rewards program managers surveyed, the majority reported that digital rewards successfully motivate consumers. According to 92 percent of respondents, digital gift cards are the most powerful digital incentives” Further, this study from Health Services Research shows that incentives don’t have to be very big, “ The results [of the study] suggest if a survey budget is limited and a timeline is not critical, a $2 incentive provides an affordable means of increasing participation.”

So let’s say you had a $200 flight you are no longer taking, that’s 100 people you could send a $2 gift card. Or, let’s say you want to send $5 to 40 people. What would you normally be doing if you met in-person? Would you be getting a coffee? Grabbing a drink? Why not send a gift card for a coffee shop or a local bar/ restaurant? I cannot emphasize how far a little personalization or thought can go with an incentive like this! My company conducted a study in 2019 in conjunction with the Incentive Gift Card Council and found that personalization of something as simple as adding an “experiential” aspect or a custom note when you send a gift card, has a real impact on the significance of the gift.

Meet Face-to-Face (Virtually)

When you host the meeting, make it a video call. Seeing each other, even if through a camera, can make people feel like they know you better, and right now we all have one common experience that we can relate to right away: the effects of Coronavirus. I don’t know about you, but ALL of my conversations have started this way. It is a unique thing to have a worldwide experience that we are all going through at the same time. While I do not want to make light of the situation, we may as well alter our perspective on it, and at least use it to our advantage! Not to mention, if you sent this person a gift card to grab a coffee; make sure you are drinking a coffee too and can show it on camera. You and the person on the other end of that video call now have 2 common topics to begin with; making the jitters fall away, and breaking down any awkwardness that can exist in a new, virtual, setting.

Meet More People (Online)

Still looking for other ways to connect with people? See if any postponed or altered conferences are offering virtual speed networking or virtual matchmaking services. If you have access to an event application, reach out to users and ask if they care to make a meeting virtual since you can’t be there in-person. Again, you are all missing out for the same reason, people might be more open to cold outreach right now since they are also looking for new opportunities for the year.

It is so critical right now that we get creative with our outreach, and that we be open to the efforts of others. What could have been a casual conversation over drinks at a reception, now has to be the somewhat impersonal email or cold call. If we are going to grow our business in 2020, we have to understand that the show must go on! It is just going to be performed in a different format for the same audience.