Market disruptions will continue. Relationships can overcome them.

Epidemics and pandemics, labor shortages, cyber risks, geopolitical instability, ideological polarization, financial and market instability, natural disasters, crises of trust. These, according to a recent Deloitte survey, are the external issues CEOs expect will disrupt their businesses into next year.

The threat landscape heading into 2022 is unique. But even through so many unprecedented challenges, (how many of you, before 2020, seriously prepared contingency plans for a global pandemic?) business leaders have shown an ability to pivot, adapt and overcome. Maybe that’s why, according to a Gartner survey, 60 percent of CEOs anticipate an economic boom in the coming year.

Though there’s market uncertainty and continued disruption, there’s also opportunity. That’s why it’s critical for business leaders to get out and talk to their customers, prospects and peers to gather as much information as they can about what’s going on with them, how they see the market and how their businesses have changed, are changing or need to change. This is a chance to get feedback on how your business is, or could be, positioned to help those who may need just one connection to capitalize on a newfound market gap.

There’s also a case to be made for getting closer with your competitors. The market is more integrated than ever. Businesses are sharing data, supply chains and struggles. But more than working directly with a competitor to solve a mutual problem, it’s also expected that this year’s robust M&A activity will continue into the next.

Dykema’s annual M&A Outlook Survey, released in November, shows 75 percent of respondents expect the U.S. M&A market will strengthen in the next 12 months, with nine out of 10 of those surveyed expecting M&A activity among privately owned businesses to increase over the next year. Building strong relationships with those in your sector can put you in a position to get the call when one of your peers explores the idea of selling.

Back to that Deloitte survey: Just 11 percent of respondents say that the business effects of the pandemic will be over for their organizations by the end of 2021. A striking 35 percent see its impact continuing to be a factor through 2022, and nearly a third expect its ripples will last into the foreseeable future. The pandemic, along with myriad other issues created because of it, means there will continue to be a lot of disruption and uncertainty in the market. But in that uncertainty, there is also possibility.

Discovering and leveraging opportunities means getting close to people in the market. Talk to them and learn about their pain points. Then find creative ways that your business can solve them.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc.