The gig economy has picked up pace during the last few months while the intensity of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic transformed how businesses chose to manage projects and outsource certain tasks to cope with the first wave of challenges. RJ Garbowicz, CEO and Co-founder at Webtalk joins us for a quick chat to share a few observations.
Tell us a little about yourself RJ …we’d love to hear about the story behind Webtalk and the journey…what are some of your future plans for the platform?
I founded Webtalk over a decade ago with the goal of providing entrepreneurs, professionals and students with more tools to create success on a global scale. Today, due to the growing need for media consolidation and increasing professionalization on social media, Webtalk has become a next-generation 2-in-1 personal and professional networking platform. Built to give the world back control of their relationships and create an overall better experience for all audiences, Webtalk has now surpassed over 6M total users. As far as the immediate future of Webtalk, we have many big updates to unveil over the next several months, including the first-ever universal profile with dual avatars, the launch of our mobile apps, and closing out our beta after nearly two-years of live testing with our target audiences.
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During the last few months, as the Covid-19 pandemic has played out, how have you observed the global workforce and top HR teams react and respond?
For an experience like a pandemic, that was shared by virtually every person on the planet, the ramifications on business segments have varied widely, including in the affiliate marketing sector. Some of the biggest trends we’ve seen are the dependency on social media to network and create impactful relationships to further careers and businesses. Now more than ever, it has become vital for the workforce to be able to efficiently manage their professional network almost completely online.
How have you seen the effects of the pandemic impact the gig economy the world over?
The gig economy has seen a large influx of workers over the pandemic, in part due to the high unemployment rates leading to more people than ever relying on contract positions to make ends meet, and due to the extra time the world has now that hours are not spent commuting and getting ready for work. As it relates to Webtalk, we have seen a steady increase in our members who are both using Webtalk to manage their personal brands while growing their networks, and participating in both our rewards program as paid content creators and our joining our affiliate program to earn from promoting Webtalk. Both programs are great sources for passive income that require minimal effort because these programs were designed to pay our members for doing things they are already doing on other platforms.
How according to you should the talent force today use online networking and social platforms to grow their reputation irrespective of whether they are looking for gigs/ new work? Why is networking important to B2B, in short?!
Networking and strong relationships have always been vital to a successful career and personal life. However, when it comes to our professional lives it becomes increasingly difficult to identify and maintain valuable relationships online with multiple social platforms. It is important to know your platforms and keep them separate. We’ve all experienced the social awkwardness of getting a request from a colleague or an assistant on Facebook, or a distant relative on LinkedIn. Instead of keeping the distinct relationships separate, we’ll allow the lines to cross. This is why Webtalk was created, as it keeps personal and professional networks siloed until you want them to cross. By easily choosing between social media channels and the type of relationships you want to share with, you can better utilize the platforms for growing your network and personal brand.
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We’d love your take on the top 5 positive / negative impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on work-life and corporate structures in general.
- Boundaries are evolving. With our personal home environments becoming our workplaces, a barrier between work and home life has shifted.
- Networking has become more than shaking hands. Perhaps one of the most detrimental effects of the pandemic has been the rising number of those who are unemployed. Because of this, people searching for both full time and gig/freelance work are realizing the value of their online professional networks and the help they can provide.
- Ad spend is being reduced. As much as modern life closed down, traditional ads no longer made sense monetarily. Businesses have cut traditional media buys and large-scale advertising campaigns and were forced to find digital alternatives driving significant growth in affiliate and influencer marketing.
- Growth of e-commerce. Many business sectors have seen an explosion in online shopping simply because there were no other options as brick and mortar stores were shuttered.
- Employees and consumers alike expect truth and transparency in all forms of communication now more than ever. After the influx of misinformation associated with the ever-changing pandemic situation, truth and transparency in both external and internal communication has grown in prevalence and value.
Could you take us through some of the process / team changes at Webtalk undertaken during this downtime – to help boost better employee coordination and motivation?
Since Webtalk has always been a highly distributed company with teams all over the world, we have had digital systems in place to manage and operate the entire company digitally. Therefore, the pandemic did not present much of a change on our operating behaviors. We use tools like Slack, Jira, Confluence, Figma, and Zoom on a regular basis to maintain our teams and projects happening worldwide to keep everyone in sync and up to date. It has always been a policy to maintain transparency and openness about every aspect of the company from our mission to our traction and everything in between with every member of our organization. It’s also been a policy to give every team member some opportunity for ownership so everyone is vested in the company’s success not just for a job, but for their retirement. It’s these policies and practices that keep our team motivated to create more success through the trying times.
A few general thoughts / tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic?
Relationships and our interconnectedness have evolved greatly over the last several months. However, they’ve actually been changing for decades – but we were able to ignore it more easily. My goal when I created Webtalk was to develop something I needed but could not find anywhere online – something that would make peer relationships easier to find and faster to conduct due diligence. Finding, facilitating and growing your professional network online will help create more opportunities that will ultimately help us maintain and grow relationships in a way that mimics real life until we can meet again face-to-face.
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