Things are starting to get back to normal—whatever that is. But it’s not the pre-covid normal. Moving forward, the world of work will be more flexible, more ambiguous, and a lot more complicated too. That’s because the hybrid environment includes lots of challenges that were not part of the workplace that we were used to before March 2020 (which feels like another lifetime ago) nor is it exactly like the all-virtual workplace we were thrown into. This new paradigm has a lot of implications for how you build your personal brand and achieve your career goals. Here are the six most concerning challenges, along with how to minimize them.
1. Making a compelling first impression
First impressions are far more likely to be virtual. People will meet the bits-and-bytes version of you first (in fact, that may be the only version of you they ever meet). That means you need to actively manage your digital brand so you can wow the people who are checking you out. To build a stellar digital first impression, first get a handle on your actual brand, and then translate it for the virtual world so that when a colleague or client meets you online, they’ll be meeting the closest thing possible to the real, authentic, amazing you. First impressions are crucial, and they don’t come with a do-over.
2. Standing out in meetings
Meetings have always been one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate value and get noticed by people who count. But in the hybrid world of work, putting the spotlight on your best traits in meetings is much harder. That’s because you need to manage what’s happening with people in the bricks-and-mortar meeting room and with those who are participating remotely—and you might be participating remotely, too. The key is to make everyone feel like you’re speaking to them individually, regardless of where they are, while engaging everyone in the conversation. Those who are not present in the meeting room will have a greater challenge staying engaged and focused, so spend a little extra time with them. This shows you’re savvy about techniques for WFA (Working From Anywhere).
3. Building relationships with colleagues/clients
Let’s face it, building relationships with others is far easier, more productive, and enjoyable in person. But that’s not always possible in the hybrid world. To get as close as you can to the old days of real-world relationship building, make every in-person opportunity matter more. Even if you only make it into the office a few times a year, you can forge stronger relationships by focusing on your colleagues and clients 100% of the time when you’re together. When you have real-world connection opportunities, don’t schedule things that keep you isolated. Each time you attend a company learning program, prioritize connecting with the other participants as being equally important to the learning. If you attend a company offsite, don’t spend it on your phone. Don’t squander real-world human connection opportunities.
Read here: The Future of Work is Hybrid
4. Feeling connected and part of a team
It’s clear that team connection and cohesion suffered when we all went virtual at the flip of a switch. And even in the WFA environment, it will be rare for the whole team to be together most of time. That means those little informal connection points, talking about what you did over the weekend, a quick chat in the coffee room, a head popping in your cubical to say hi!— those are all gone. Counteract the humanity deficit by building in human connection activities to the work that you do online, especially in Zoom meetings. Make it a deliberate act to reach out to just say hello to each of your colleagues every week.
5. Staying visible
If you’re mostly WFH, you’re invisible. This means you need strategies to visibly demonstrate the value you deliver. One way to achieve this is with social media. Become a digital brand ambassador for your company by sharing company content with your connections. Include all the people you seek to influence in your connections and followers.
6. Obtaining valuable feedback
Feedback is hard to come by in the WFA world. That’s because most of those opportunities for immediate impromptu feedback have been eliminated or weakened. The boss who stops by your office and says, “Nice job summing up that complex client problem in that meeting” has basically disappeared in a workforce that’s distributed. Yet regular feedback is critical to helping you stay on track and course correct as necessary. You can’t wait for your annual review to learn about things you could be doing better or hear about what impresses your supervisor. To get regular feedback, overtly seek it out. Ask for honest feedback, use anonymous feedback tools to obtain insight and take action on what you learn.
The hybrid WFA environment makes it tempting to stay in the shadows. But if you give in and fall back, your career will certainly suffer. Implement these tips to keep yourself—and your personal brand—visible and valuable.
You might like this: The 5 Challenges Hybrid Teams Face
This article was originally published on forbes.com