Five Real Tips for Getting to Know Your Virtual Colleagues

Whether you’re a new hire, a people manager, or an existing team member trying to connect, face-to-face connections have never been more important — or more complicated.

By: Miranda Steele

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1) Make eye contact.

The Zoom fatigue might be real, but if you’re starting a new role, make your webcam your friend. If a meeting offers a video log in, use it, and be sure to turn your camera on. And if you’re in a position to encourage others to join with video as well, I’d recommend it.

2) Use every meeting as a gateway to more meetings.

Hear me out! While meetings are typically the bane of business existence, in the current environment they are the primary way to connect with other people. If you’re new, they are likely also the primary way you’re meeting anyone.

3) You can — and should — still have water cooler conversations.

When you’re new on the job, finding common ground is key to building relationships. Before you can look back with your colleagues on your professional accomplishments together or reminisce about a team karaoke night (RIP, karaoke), you’ll want to find ways to be more than just “the new person on the project.” Personal and professional lives have never been more blurred, and right now that means permission to share more than just your professional achievements.

4) The medium is the message (and right now, that includes the wall behind you).

Remember trading fashion notes with colleagues and having a sense of their personal style? Consider your virtual backdrop your new office attire. And with that in mind, consider what it says about you. While there’s no requirement to dress up the nook you’re working from, it can be one more way to make an impression.

5) Take notes, and keep them in plain sight.

While it’s easier than ever to keep everyone’s names straight (video calls and meeting invites act as permanent name tags!), remembering who said what can be as challenging as ever. Consider jotting down a few points from your conversations with new colleagues and then pulling them up the next time you connect.

And as always, don’t forget to follow up. Relationships take work — even in a pandemic.

If you’re new, the onus is on you to reach out. Carve out time to manage your calendar and reach out to colleagues you’ve recently met and to the other names on your growing list. A fifteen- or twenty-minute coffee chat goes a long way, and when you ask someone if it would be okay to get back together in a few months, set yourself a reminder (or a post-it!) and make sure to lock it in.

Do you have a virtual connection tip?

Nearly a year into the pandemic, the number of employees hired and onboarded virtually continues to grow. Have you recently started a new role? If so, what tips would you add to this list?

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