Our lives these days can seem to consist of a sequence of virtual meetings, with interpersonal encounters as hard to pin down as the electrons that are zooming around the Internet. The isolation of the virtual world can be frustrating, but there are things you can do to ensure that it’s Zoombaya rather than Zoombyebye. As it happens, each and every virtual meeting provides the same opportunity to create meaningful relationships as in-person encounters. Here are key things you can do to ensure that you use every opportunity to build collaboration and, ultimately, create a more productive work environment.
1. Take yourself off auto pilot . Remember a golden rule of networking: Each and every situation is an opportunity to develop mutually beneficial relationships. It just takes more effort online than it does in person.
2. Ensure your camera is on and that colleagues can see that you are present and attentive. If you have to step away for a moment, put a remark in the chat that excuses you in the same way as you would in person. If for some reason you are feeling under the weather and want your camera off, I recommend a professional photograph in place of a black screen with your name.
3.Take notes of what people are saying so that after the meeting you can connect separately and discuss a comment or suggestion that was made. The key to building long term relationships is follow up. All too often we are good at making the connection, but forget the second two stages of conversation and collaboration.
4.Use LinkedIn to research people on a call if you are meeting for the first time so you can greet them with a customized introductory message. The result of this is that you maintain connections in a virtual platform where each individual is responsible for updating their own information. This is in contrast to your own database that requires you to constantly update as people’s details change.
5. While you are waiting for people to get on the call, use those few minutes to get current. Treat the wait as an icebreaker. For example, you could quickly go around and ask the participants how they have been experiencing the sudden changes in their daily lives. You could ask people what has been most difficult, or, for that matter, whether there have been any positives. My favorite conversation starter is as follows: ” While we wait for everyone to connect, let’s quickly share one of the positive things that we are experiencing while working from home, for me its been a huge time saver in terms of commuting, what’s it been for you?