Q: This year, I’ve met so many new colleagues and customers exclusively through web meetings. How can I ensure I’m making genuine connections in a virtual setting?
A: At this point, we’ve gotten so used to our Zoom friends that it might even seem awkward to meet them in person. But we know we’ll be connecting online for a while longer – so it’s essential to make sure we’re really connecting.
As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. First impressions are made within about seven seconds of meeting a person, and they tend to stick. So what happens when the ways we’re accustomed to creating first impressions – like a firm handshake – are off-limits? Your clients and colleagues want to see you, get to know you, and ultimately trust you. You might be engaging virtually, but the relationships you create should be genuine.
Turn the camera on (sorry!)
Like it or not, a big part of creating strong connections is to get comfortable being on camera. Pre-COVID, we could get away with letting our voice do the work in virtual settings. No more – you won’t be running into coworkers at the office or taking customers to lunch just yet, so use the opportunity to let yourself be seen. To truly make yourself human, live touchpoints are essential – even in larger groups or quick check-ins.
Start with some non-work discussion
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Now is the time to open your meeting with a few minutes of casual chat or a trivia question. Set yourself apart with a virtual background or ask everyone to share a piece of good news (we do this at Within3). With minimal effort, you can create a more memorable impression.
Give people time to think
Finally, realize that a web meeting alone isn’t always the answer. If you’re presenting a large amount of information or asking people for deeper feedback, consider moving part of your agenda to an over-time format so participants can respond accordingly. HCPs who are seeing patients in person will also have more flexibility to respond when they have a few moments to spare. And at this point, most of us would welcome a respite from back-to-back video calls, so take the opportunity to strengthen relationships by giving people time to be thoughtful about their work.
Remember that entire organizations have changed their engagement style to keep work moving forward – take a moment to think about how your own engagement style might change so you can continue building strong professional relationships.