Imagine this: you’re 20 minutes into a video call with your client when your dog begins incessantly barking at the mailman or your significant other chooses to film their fifth TikTok of the day. For many of us, this has become the new normal. Working from home has its challenges and advantages (we see you, side-hustlers and sleeper-inners), but we can all agree that human connection is indispensable.
In the office, trust is one of the most important elements to be built between employees and management. Our day-to-day interactions, whether it be conversations about an upcoming project or tableside chats about last night’s episode of The Bachelor, are crucial for building and nurturing positive relationships in the workplace.
And while clients aren’t jumping at a chat about reality television, a lack of in-person meetings has made it difficult for companies to build trust and gain an accurate representation of their proponent’s workplace culture. Michael Massari, Caesars Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of National Meetings and Events, is a strong believer in the value of in-person communication, stating that companies are twice as likely to acquire prospective clients through an in-person meeting, rather than a phone call, simply because “no” is easier to say virtually.
Now, we can all agree that it wasn’t until restrictions were placed on our physical interactions that we discovered just how important in-person communication is – whether it’s with Sally by the water cooler or your new B2C client. For many businesses, the transition from in-office to virtual has been tough, to say the least, but until we can shake hands and share hugs, industries have to continue to make a powerful commitment to their most important assets – employees and clients. While CT is still navigating these new and uncharted waters, here are some of our tools and strategies to enhance connection virtually:
01. Create an Interactive Experience
Who said meetings can’t be fun? It can be especially difficult to gauge the level of engagement and excitement from your client(s) or team on a video call. To draw attention to your presentation, create check-in points throughout by asking outside of the box questions that relate to the presentation topic, build a creative and visual presentation deck – one that people can’t read off of but have to engage in, and incorporate supporting videos that add value to your ideas.
02. Turn on Your Zoom Camera
Although many of us can admit that sitting in our pajamas from 9am to 5pm has been an easy adjustment, when clients and employees choose to keep their cameras off during a virtual meeting we are often left wondering just how good they felt about our conversation. While we can’t ask our clients to turn their cameras on, we can practice what we preach. By humanizing the conversation, our clients can see our personality, dedication, and professionalism.
Within your team, consider implementing one meeting a week where you encourage employees to turn their cameras on. For those that don’t know one another, it’s a much needed introduction and for others it’s a familiar face to brighten their day.
03. Send a Gift (or a Virtual Kudos)
You can’t deny that gifts spark joy (thanks Marie Kondo!), which is why at CT, we love to let our clients know that we appreciate them. Towards the end of a project our team sends a personalized gift for each of our clients, one that screams “We can’t be there to high-five you, but here’s a little something to let you know how much we care about our partnership!”
Similarly, we take this approach within our team. A designated #kudos channel enables and encourages employees to shout-out those who have made their day a little easier or a little more magnificent. And boy, do we have an amazing team.
04. Request Feedback
Like we said, the shift to complete virtual communication is new and uncharted water for many of us, but as you carry-out new strategies and integrate the latest virtual tools into your day-to-day activities, be sure to check-in with your clients and employees about how they’re feeling about your new processes. Send out surveys to ensure anonymity or have a discussion during your next team happy hour. This kind of transparency will always push you to be the best version of your company.
Now, we understand virtual meetings are the new way of the world, but when the madness is over (we’re lookin’ at you COVID), don’t forget to put this type of effort back into your in-person meetings. You, your team, and your clients will be yearning to regain that human connection, so continue to make it memorable…and fun!