When Norfolk went into lockdown every business owner felt the impact
And for Lorna Burroughes, founder of the Norwich-based Thrive, networking group, it meant switching almost overnight to online video meetings instead of the traditional face-to-face sessions that the group’s 70 odd members were used to.
Instead of attending weekly gatherings at the usual Norwich locations such as the Earlham Institute or the Narthex, Lorna and Thrive members (full disclosure – I’m one of them) were logging on to switch to virtual meetings via Zoom (pretty much like most of the business world it seemed).
But after a couple of weeks, Lorna says the new format is finding its feet – and has even seen some inquiries from new members wishing to join, opting for the convenience of logging in from the comfort of their own home.
Thrive has five groups which meet fortnightly and a weekly Zoom ‘Connect’ session open to all.
What’s been interesting is that the sessions are far less about asking what you do and exchanging business contact details and more about being a place where members can share expertise or even talk about issues which are affecting them and their business right now.
“It’s been really nice and we felt we can offer that support,” Lorna says. “It’s been lovely to see how much people have appreciated it.”
Adapting to Covid-19
For Lorna, it was important that Thrive, like all businesses, had to adapt to life under the extraordinary new world of Covid-19.
“We have just had to stop what we were doing and change,” Lorna says. “It’s been a really big learning curve. We all need to talk to each other and as businesses, we have got to feel part of something. Now we have got to build that trust up.”
Lorna set up Thrive with the ethos of helping businesses build ‘trusted’ relationships both for generating leads and referrals, with a focus on ‘network marketing’ and providing a supportive environment where likeminded people could come together.
That last bit is something which has come very much to the fore in the current climate both for Lorna and the rest of the Thrive team – husband John and colleague Kay.
All agreed that the important thing was to provide a space where members could share both their concerns, but also their ideas for dealing with the crisis.
And in fact the crisis has accelerated a journey the business had already embarked on towards focusing on relationship building, mentoring and even e-learning aimed at helping members identify both their ideal clients as well as opportunities to grow both as an individual and a business.
“We realised that we just had to do it,” adds Lorna. “With all our members, the chances are if you don’t know the answer, we know somebody that does.
“People are really struggling mentally. We all need each other and need somebody to talk to. There are different ways we can support each other.
“If we can help people survive this and come through at the other end, that’s what I’m about. We will come out of this and every day brings that a little bit closer.”
Lorna’s tips for working from home
Lorna is no stranger to home working – something she had first started doing in the late 1990s when her children were small. But as many of us get to grips with the new ‘office’ environment here are her top tips for making the most of it.
1. Make sure you have got a routine
2. Get up and get dressed as if you are at work
3. Don’t try and do everything, but break it down into chunks
4. Remember to have breaks!
Written by Content Connective