Virtual Networking that Works

Coming out of an environment that required us to live online for the bulk of the past 3 years, we know that some of it is here to stay.  As someone who has a deeper appreciation for the quiet 1-to-1 corner conversations a party, this invasive thing called virtual meetings and zoom connects are really something too close for comfort.

The Xena platform introduces many matches, links and connections to members either through geography, industry, interests or shared experiences. The game has changed and if nothing else, I’m competitive, so how do we win at networking virtually?

Get your space camera ready

When you meet someone for the first time online – it is etiquette to have cameras on.  This means that apart from the obvious effect of natural light on your face, your frame should be photo friendly.  As you would make an effort to make an impression at a physical event, make sure that the environment you are calling from a set up authentically.  Your background says a lot about you – be sure that it is what you want it to say.  Using a filter already detracts from the trust factor as it sends a message that you do not want to be ‘open’.  If anything, a blurred background helps, but most expert video caller make sure that their first meet and greet is a memorable mental picture.

Prepare an intro

Uhmmmm… the first few moments of the call can often be uncomfortable without the age-old pleasantry exchange associated with physical events.  Although coming into the meeting with a few ‘ice-breaker’ questions could feel like overkill, it could bridge an awkward silence or just put the other party at ease that it is a discussion and not an interrogation:

  • How has the virtual networking been for you?
  • Anything exciting you are currently working on?
  • Apart from this and wearing flip flops all day, how many loaves of sourdough did you bake?
Etiquette is everything

As with any other event, having certain unspoken rules are key to creating great experiences.  Even if you didn’t bother to put on your office pants, don’t be the person with the distracting quirks:

  • Do your best to not get up during the call; especially if it requires you to move your laptop
  • Wait a moment before responding to avoid speaking over people. Pausing for even just a second will give you time to know they have completed their thought

Connecting with people will become increasingly important as the world of work gets smaller and the pace of execution gets faster.  If you have been able to crack this – you have taken a giant leap toward the new world of networking.

For more virtual call etiquette.

Vitual meeting etiquette has little (to nothing) to do with how you speak or dress, and everything with how you prepare, appear, focus, and make others feel.  Whether it is within your own team or with external stakeholders, it is important to lay down some hypothetical ground rules:

  • Keep your microphone muted unless you have the floor; especially if you are joining the call from a place that has background noise you cannot control
  • Turn off audible notifications on your computer and phone
  • Prepare an agenda; not having one is like having too few seats in your board room.  You have not prepared and neither will they be.  Meetings without a clear goal or objective often lead to disengagement and result and repeat meetings.
  • Be prepared for the meeting, do the prereading, get the information, bring the data.  The reason for the meeting is to obtain feedback and discuss ways to move forward, it should not be a brainstorm, unless clearly expressed in the agenda.
  • Tell your brain it is time for a meeting.  Down what you are doing, sit back in your chair, be present for the first few moments (undistracted) and re-engage by taking notes or capturing to-do’s.
  • Prevent distractions by making it clear (to your surroundings or household) that you are in a meeting.  Respect for the privilege to work from anywhere is important when engaging in virtual meetings by limiting distractions and disruptions.
  • Do not attend the meeting if you do not intend to be present and contributing.  With cameras often switched off, people tend to multitask which is obvious when similar topics or items already discussed pop up in following days.
  • Don’t multitask. We’re talking about using multiple screens to still work on emails and not looking at the one with the camera, missing part of the conversation because you were texting or trying to prepare a meal (we’ve personally seen this one go down). If for some reason you must multi-task, turn off your video and make sure your microphone is muted
  • Don’t leave the room while the meeting is running as it is bad manners to have the conversation switch to you; and you don’t unmute yourself or the other attendees have to contend with traffic, coffee shop noises etc.
  • Using the chat feature can be a cool and fun way to give side-comments or add discussion points without disrupting the speaker or speaking over each other.  Use it without abusing it or starting a whole side-meeting with other members.
  • Drinks (other than water, coffee or tea) and snacks generally discouraged unless you had planned to do a virtual coffee date or happy hour


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