Meeting new coworkers and clients online can feel awkward and much less human than the analog version that we were all used to before March 2020. But e-meeting is the biggest kind of meeting (for some of us, it’s the only kind of meeting) these days, so making a powerful digital first impression is critical. There are things you should do before meeting them to help you deliver a powerful first impression when they perform preliminary research (a.k.a. Google and LinkedIn) on you. Then, there are things you need to do during that first screen-to-screen meeting to create a solid foundation for a good relationship. When those two interactions deliver a positive impression, you’ll be on a pedestal thanks to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias in this sense means that a couple of consistent positive experiences with you will set the trajectory in a positive upward direction.
Here are my top tips for maximizing the power of video (which is the richest form of communication, next to being there in person), which you can use to keep that trajectory moving higher. If they offer to do a phoner, ask for video instead. It’s the closest thing to those real-world interactions we used to have, and video allows you to deliver a complete communication. You should be comfortable using video now, so make sure the first interaction is as engaging as possible.
1. Show up on time. Be ready to go as soon as your online meeting starts. Nothing says “this isn’t important to me” like showing up late or frazzled.
2. Say their name (multiple times if you can). If you’re meeting them on Zoom, their name will likely be right there on the screen. It’s the digital equivalent of the Hello My Name Is sticker that’s common at many networking events. Make a mental note of the name. If there are multiple people you’re meeting at once, take a screenshot, and you’ll have the pics and names of the folks from the meeting.
3. Look them in the eye. That means looking at the camera, not where they appear on your screen. This is the biggest mistake I see people make over and over. Although it may feel weird, when you get used to it, it will have a big impact on how you connect with others, while showing them you have mastered online interactions. If it feels weird talking to a green light on your laptop, tape a picture of a person right where the camera is (making sure not to obscure the lens!).
4. Ask questions and listen. Have some questions prepared that will show that you’re interested and original. Go for questions like “What are you excited about right now?” over “What’s the weather like today in Chicago?” Ask them about something you learned from the prep you did for your online research on them. “So, I see you worked for American Express early in your career. How did you like that?” It shows that you are interested and have done your homework.
It’s more important to be interested than interesting. And don’t forget to ask the most important question: “How can I help you?”
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5. Use tech to enhance the experience. Use the QR code of your LinkedIn profile so they can easily connect with you by just holding their phone up to the screen. Warmly.ai for Zoom lets you create a background signature with information you want to share about yourself.
6. Acknowledge them. There is likely something impressive, something you respect, something you admire about every person you meet. From your research, identify the thing you want to call out.
7. Take notes. While you likely won’t remember everything you learn about someone, do jot down the important bits. Just don’t take too many notes, though, because you’ll seem disinterested if it’s clear you’re typing instead of paying attention. I keep an Evernote note called People and jot down a few keywords related to each new person I meet.
8. Create a connection. Identify someone in your network you could introduce this new colleague to. Think about who in your network would be great for them to meet. One of the most valuable networking activities you can do is to create connections among network members.
9. Identify when you will next connect. Don’t end the meeting without a plan for the next meeting or activity. Identify when/how you will connect again. Relationships are built over many interactions.
10. Don’t rush out of the Zoom room. Don’t be the first person to click “leave meeting.” You don’t want to look like you were desperate to move on to something else.
With a little effort, you can make e-meetings positive, powerful and productive.
This article was originally published on forbes.com. For more information on Personal Branding , please visit williamarruda.com
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