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City of London Central London

IoD London Embraces Business as Unusual

22 Jun 2020

In late March 2020, our IoD London Committees joined the rest of the world in having the rug pulled out from under all of our ‘best laid plans’.

Suddenly, we could not use our Pall Mall home, nor any other venue, for the events we had locked into our calendar to engage with IoD Members.

Our experience will be familiar to many businesses who have taken similar steps to innovate and adapt during the covid-19 crisis. The very first step we took was to form a small 6-person “digital taskforce” who could rapidly evaluate our options and make executive decisions much faster than we are usually able to. This was crucial.

Within weeks we had launched the IoD London #BusinessAsUnusual weekly webinar series, starting with two panel discussions from the Chairs of our various Special Interest Groups, sharing their insights on how the crisis was impacting their various industries. We embraced the challenge as an opportunity and the effect this approach has had on our impact has been truly bewildering. Nothing demonstrates this more powerfully than the way our new digital strategy has caused our reach and engagement to rocket in comparison to the same period last year by all measures:

The crisis forced us to massively accelerate our IoD London digital strategy, something which has clearly been to our immense advantage and has left us wondering why we didn’t do it sooner. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that our revamped digital strategy and webinar series are here to stay for the long term, even as lockdown begins to ease and in-person events become possible once more.

This ‘new normal’ is a reality shared by countless businesses right now, and I thought it worth sharing a few of our key learnings that may be of value to others:

  1. Create a Crisis Team.
  2. This should be a small, temporary crisis team with the authority and resources to make rapid decisions and direct involvement of senior leadership.

  3. Disruption is an opportunity, not a problem.
  4. The opportunistic mindset is crucial to thriving through disruption. For us, high-profile international speakers were now on the cards, allowing us to collaborate with people like Duncan Wardle, Disney’s former Head of Innovation & Creativity and THE Gina Miller, a well-known social media influencer, entrepreneur and activist.

  5. Consistency is key.
  6. When it comes to social media and virtual events, having a consistent approach to weekly webinars and regular engaging content and videos has served us extremely well.

    • Experiment on different online webinar formats - panel/ 1:1 interview/ workshop - the learning and insights gained varies
    • Pay attention to back end / back stage logistics for a seamless / effortless event - have distinct roles, plan ahead, brief speakers and panelists
    • Virtual networking is a winner - people like to connect with each other and meaningful conversations can take place between 3-4 people in 15 mins.
    • Marketing best practices..Create a brand/ use video ....??
    • Anything during event....?

This has been and will continue to be a hard time for many businesses, but we hope that many of our community will also be experiencing the silver linings that can come from disruptive opportunities. We will be continuing to do our best to bring valuable insights and opportunities to connect with others in the IoD Community, and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.

Written by Andrew Griffiths
IoD Central London Branch Social Ambassador & Member of our Young Directors Forum.

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