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Keep Conversation Flowing When Working Remotely

When the entire team was in the office, short conversations in the breakroom or by the printer were common and helped you get to know your coworkers. Maybe you’ve heard these quick chats called “water cooler moments.” Water cooler moments are a great opportunity to simply hang out with one another and get to know coworkers on a personal level. You may have had many water cooler moments with clients as well when you met up for lunch or happy hour to discuss upcoming projects.

Now that many offices are working remotely or have implemented a flexible work-from-home model, these personal and impromptu moments to connect are far and few between. Here are a few ways to make water cooler moments with coworkers or clients possible when working remotely.

Incorporate Casual Conversation into Your Routine Meetings

Add time for water cooler moments into your regularly scheduled meetings. You can even add structure to these casual conversations by planning a specific question to ask in advance, or noting to catch up on the client’s recent vacation that they took. Taking the time to ask these light-hearted, personal questions allows you to build meaningful relationships with coworkers and clients. It allows you to understand their thought processes and patterns, which can make work more fun for everyone.

During these water cooler moments, take note of any personal status updates a coworker or client shares with you. Building strong relationships is possible even when working remotely! Remembering that a coworker was going to a specific state for vacation allows you to follow up and ask specific questions about their time off. Or maybe you notice that your client’s office has a different décor. Make personal connections whenever you get the chance to maintain a positive work environment, even when you’re at home.

PODCAST: Quick tips to nurture client relationships

Utilize Technology

There are many tools to make water cooler moments even more impromptu than during a meeting. Utilizing tools like Slack and chat features tied to your email or video conference software are easy ways to quickly say hello to a friend at the company. These features can also be used for quick work updates, so whenever you have to share a status update on a project, make sure to ask about the coworker’s kickball league or favorite sports team. These conversations don’t have to be long, but are meaningful and help build team comradery.

There are many different types of professional online messaging tools your firm or association can use to stay connected. If you don’t know of a tool that your organization uses, reach out to the HR or IT department. Maybe there is one that you need to get connected to, or they would be able to set one up for the entire team to take advantage of.

VIDEO: A positive work culture attracts great candidates. Learn more!

Get Face-to-Face

The best part of in-office water cooler moments is that you had the opportunity to connect with coworkers that you didn’t work with directly, or you could schedule regular hangouts with a client. When we work from home, that opportunity to connect with different teams or departments is often missed. If you’re like us at Ingenuity, you love forming relationships with people. Don’t be afraid to admit that casual conversations in the middle of the work day is something that can turn your day around! If this is you too, invite a coworker or client to have a quick 15-minute phone or video call with you over coffee.

These conversations aren’t impromptu, but can certainly be something to look forward to. Just because so many of us are working from home doesn’t mean that we don’t have to see one another. Reach out and send the invitation to connect. You may be surprised at how many of the people you enjoyed talking with near the printer in the office will want to chat remotely.

Keep the Conversation Light

Quick chats in the breakroom were fun because they were refreshing. The topic of work didn’t come up often. It was a little bit of a break that allowed you to go back to your task at hand with a new perspective and cleared mind. Light conversations also helped you form long-lasting relationships with clients.

Keep the same strategy in place when you decide to send someone an online message, invite them to a one-on-one video call or when incorporating water cooler moments into your meetings. Allow this time to be a little break from the reality of your work day.

By taking a break, you gain momentum on your project when you get back to your desk. Your clients also benefit from the break, and the entire office benefits by you having built stronger coworker relationships. Relationships that you form through these impromptu conversations will allow you to work better with coworkers and clients. Not only will you work better with one another, but work will be more fun, more conversational and the finished project results will be collaborative and successful. Implement more water cooler moments into your work-from-home routine and reap the benefits!

Virtual networking is here to stay! Learn more tips about how virtual tools can boost your firm or associations business development strategy.


 

Desk with Laptop showing video conference

Virtual Networking: It’s Here to Stay!

 

Virtual networking provides countless advantages to boost your business development strategy. Not only can you form long-term relationships with potential clients and business partners, but you get to connect at your own convenience.

Taking advantage of virtual networking allows us to connect with anyone from anywhere. There’s no longer a limit to how far we will travel to meet prospects, or a need to coordinate travel days into our busy work schedule. It also allows us to connect with others in different time zones, and then take our children to soccer practice later in the afternoon. The new virtual world we live in allows professionals within any industry to maintain a personal and work life balance.

Virtual networking is here to stay simply because of the convenience factor. Here’s how to take advantage of this new way of doing business.

Virtual Networking Can Still Be Personal

Just like you would talk about weather or traffic when meeting a prospect in person, you still need to add these casual conversational pieces into your virtual discussions. In other words, don’t make it all about work. Ask about a painting or photo someone has behind them during the video conference call. Ask them questions about their weekend or their hobbies. Side conversations like this make networking fun, memorable and personable. It’s these types of conversations that allow you to form long-lasting, valuable relationships with potential leads that turn into loyal clients.

Add variety to how you connect with your prospects. With the year 2020 behind us, you’ve probably heard or experienced what we often call “Zoom fatigue”. It’s true that being on video or on a long call can be exhausting, especially when you’re trying to separate personal and work life. Ask your prospects if they prefer to meet on camera or over the phone today. Who knows, you may find prospects in your local area who would prefer to meet at a coffee shop.

Other ways to stop top-of-mind with prospects is to share resources. After knowing your prospects interests and appetite for your services, share podcasts, blogs, videos or other resources you’ve found to be helpful. Connecting like this via email allows you to be seen as a valuable resource, helping the potential client to understand certain topics or gain industry insight.

PODCAST: THE MAGIC OF VIRTUAL NETWORKING

Virtual Networking Adds Flexibility to your Work Schedule

We now have the opportunity to network with people far and wide, whenever it works best for our work or personal schedules. You may find that fitting virtual networking into your busy work schedule is easier than ever. Maybe for you, scheduling multiple video conference calls in one afternoon allows you to cross multiple necessary discussions off your business development to-do list quickly and efficiently.

It may seem difficult to initially connect with new prospects. Once you have their contact information, offer a brief 10 to 15-minute phone call. Brief phone calls remain less intimidating than video conferencing. This phone call can be used to get to know what the prospect’s needs are, what they are looking for and how you can help. From there, having a follow up discussion via video can be a more beneficial use of time and provide an opportunity to share informed insight to what specific services or information the prospect is looking for.

Connecting virtually also allows you have to have multiple resources at your fingertips. When meeting virtually with a potential client, you can have their website up on your computer screen while you ask questions about their operations. Maybe you even skim through their LinkedIn profile during your discussion to speak to specific work-experience or skills the prospect has.

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Stick to the Basics

One of the keys to networking is your follow through. Even when connecting virtually, follow up via email or phone to check in with the lead. Ask how they are doing, if they have any questions for you and maybe even bring up a topic of conversation you had together during the call. This is another opportunity to connect with the prospect on a personal level, and form a loyal working relationship with them.

When connecting virtually, be attentive. Give the prospect your entire attention by being in a quiet room with limited distractions and good phone service or a strong internet connection. Silence phone or computer notifications, just as you would in an in-person business meeting.

We get it. Life happens, and sometimes you will need to reschedule virtual meetings. Even though virtual networking is convenient because we can do it from our couch, the airport or the local coffee shop, being appreciative of the prospect’s time is critically important. Don’t forget to communicate in advance if you must reschedule.

The advantages to virtual networking are limitless. It brings ease to your work day, adds flexibility to your business development strategy and expands who you can reach for future business opportunities. If you haven’t added this into your business development strategy, what are you waiting for?! Take advantage of these opportunities, yet keep the foundation of networking skills in place. With these tips in mind, your business development strategy will reap the benefits of virtual networking long into the future.  

Thinking about hosting more virtual events to support virtual networking? Check out our blog post, How to Leverage Virtual Events in 2021