Building community under lockdown orders

Here at the Canberra Innovation Network, we’re all about community. Without it, we’d miss out on collaborations with brilliant, creative entrepreneurs across the territory. But how are we meant to tap into each other’s know-how when abiding by stay-at-home orders? 

Although coffee catch-ups aren’t on the cards for any of us this week, there are a few simple activities you can engage in whilst working from home to build on that sense of community that inspires the ideas of tomorrow. 

First Wednesday Connect

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” shall cancel Canberra’s favourite monthly meeting of the minds, and nor shall COVID-19! It will just occur online in September. We had plenty of practice running this pitch / networking event online during last year’s lockdown, so expect an even more seasoned group, uninhibited by a maximum capacity and ouchy business shoes. But be sure to register!     

FWC offers the chance to hear about some very cool new ideas, as well as the opportunity for you to network with other attendees. Practice translating your own elevator pitch into a tweet’s worth of text and look for the investors, SMEs and researchers you’d like to corner in person in a COVID-free Canberra. They might even be more receptive to a chat now that they’re also stuck at home.

Over Communicate

When reduced to a face on Teams, a flurry of emails and dueling real-time edits on shared documents, it’s easy to misinterpret or read into a coworker’s online offering. As such, be as crystal clear in your communications as possible. “Why should I talk to Susan?” doesn’t carry the “Why the HELL would I talk to Susan?!” / “Why didn’t I think to talk to Susan sooner?!” that would be understood by simple intonation.  

Rather than finding yourself in a spiral of rapid fire emails, be ready to solve problems over the phone or with a meeting URL. It’s easier to get things in writing after a brief chat than sifting through thread after thread of back-and-forth emails.

Keeping Up With The Kolleagues

Water cooler convos really break up the day, and help us build bonds with the people we work with (and hope to collaborate with in the future). Just as you’d bump into an entrepreneur in the coworking kitchen, or chat with a familiar face from the same level when waiting for coffee, it’s important to keep up this kind of casual communication when working from home. 

Consider opening up team meetings with a round-table of home office show-and-tell, or Netflix recommendations, or recipe / delivery wins. You can get down to brass tacks after personalising the other people on your Zoom.  

Make the most of online socialising 

In order to build on a professional community, ensure your personal community’s thriving. If your only connection to the outside world is your small group of colleagues, you in danger, girl

Ensure your best foot’s forward online

Now’s the time to stretch your creative muscles and write for your site! Your online presence is the only one present during lockdown, so ensure it’s robust, up-to-date and polished. Publish content about your product or idea, share it on socials and engage with targeted groups for feedback. 

Ask for help

The Commonwealth and ACT governments are offering grants of $1,000 to $3,000 to businesses that are doing it tough without warm bodies. There’s also a Small Business Hardship scheme that covers credits on fees and charges up to $10,000. So find out if you’re eligible, bearing in mind claims close on 9 September. 

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