Guest Blog: Connection, Education, Experience

 By Catherine Whelan

If I were at my desk in my workplace office right now there would be a sign on my pinboard that reads:

Connection    –     Education    –    Experience

As a career saleswoman, I have it there to constantly remind myself of what I consider to be the most valuable things to include in any value exchange or sale.

In a pandemic, in hard lockdown, the value of these three things are higher than ever.

Connection

For me, living in one of those notorious “hotspot” suburbs a mere handful of kilometres from the city of Melbourne; the work from home orders from the CEO came only slightly before the Prime Minister’s “stay at home” request.

That’s more than 170 days or 47% of the year living inside an invisible perimeter. And 66+ of those have been with stage 4 restrictions.

The first type of connectivity that many were seeking was WiFi. Quickly followed by gadgets and devices that need internet access in order to derive the greatest benefit. It is easy to see how the demand of these consumer goods increased, inevitably driving the prices up. WiFi became a need. Sufficient WiFi makes people feel safe. Wifi is the invisible, somewhat magical, network that allows humans of a certain class and age feel connected… like they belong.

The second type of connection that managers, colleagues and clients were seeking was a distorted, grainy, close-up of my face. Which I always manage to provide for them at an awkward angle! Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Webex, Google Meet and FaceTiime. All with their own quirks, all will fail at least once when it matters. (With apologies to all other brands, for the remainder of this article I shall use the word Zoom as one does Band-aid, interchangeable for any product in the category!)

Soon the wondrous technologies were replacing all other forms of socialising outside of work too. Chatting with friends on the phone is great, but after a while, you miss their face. Every last one of them. Zoom really came to the party with free accounts for all and a generous 40-minute window. Simple to use too if you’re new to all this, as most people are. Zoom ‘calls’, Zoom drinks, Zoom games, Zoom dress-ups, Zoom cook-offs…. Zoom wine tastings!

I was sceptical at first and I thought how on earth will anyone be able to recreate a cellar door experience via a two-dimensional screen? Then I dialed in to the French countryside with a flute of French bubbles and after a while, the fact that you’re sitting at your home work station fades away and you can see the French sunshine, hear the French birds, smell the French wine… bliss.

Education

Zoom has opened a world of education to anyone with internet and a device. School children are kept isolated in their homes; have access to their classroom teachers and can continue to learn, away from the germs from which we all hide.

Webinars and forums, panel discussions and tutorials, symposia and entire conferences are appearing each week via platforms such as Zoom. Everyone can be a broadcaster, and anyone can have a voice on the world wide web. Experts and teachers that were previously difficult to access due to geography or auditorium limitations are now available to all. I can start my day listening to a scientist in Singapore, followed by a public health expert in Europe. Then I can “jump in” to a discussion in Adelaide and finish up in my sister’s lounge room. It is dizzying and delightful and perfect.

Often for a very small fee, you can access lectures and teachers. With more people participating than ever before, those providing the education will have more students, more customers, maybe even more income than ever before.

Experience

For some, when they see the word Experience on my list of things to sell, they will comment, “that is the easiest of them all!”. I can see why- dining experiences and thrill experiences and spas and travel and escape rooms are all forms of entertainment and experiences that most people can imagine purchasing.

But it is a shared experience that is of high value both on my pinboard list and in the pandemic. The human experience is enhanced by shared experiences and those who find a common feeling or understanding will quickly form a lasting bond. As will those who face and solve problems together.

It’s how small talk works – commenting on things we each can see, feel, hear or do. The weather, the kids, public transport or the barista’s skill. Building rapport with one another.

And it can be how big, multi-million-dollar deals or industries are made. Like a tennis player lamenting about how many racquets he goes though and a racquet manufacturer lamenting over sluggish sales. Both parties value quality tennis. Both enjoy the summer sport. Both wish to experience a better version of themselves. Each has value to give to the other. They can each solve a problem for the other. The best part? They each add to the other, they both win.

If I were there, back at my workplace desk, I’d also see a highlights reel. Visual representation of recent successes. Examples of connections that sing. Education that creates impact and Experiences that generate stories, the language of all humans.

This pandemic will generate stories too.

If not visible already, successes will come.

And I, for one, will have learned more than I ever have in my life.

 

What have you learned lately? I’d love to hear your tales of learning, the pandemic, snaps from your highlights reel or something you just discovered.

 

Would you like to write for Recruitment Central? Contact us to discuss.

About Catherine Whelan, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Asthma Australia

Catherine is the Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships with Asthma Australia, she utilises partnerships to empower people to manage their asthma, so they can live a life uninhibited. She is passionate about ensuring partnership channels are delivering for all parties. Based in Melbourne, she is also a wine buff and learning to be a fluent French speaker.

The team at Recruitment Central have had the pleasure of working with Catherine on her recruitment projects.

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