Building remote relationships has been crucial during recent months, but it’s not always easy to do. In this blog post, Laughologist, Sarah Helm, shares her tips for building remote relationships in our new topsy-turvy world of work.
Over the past year, many of us have breathed a sigh of relief as those cheesy networking events of old were archived along with Black Forest Gateau. Of course, there are those who enjoy networking to build on new and existing relationships. But then there are others that find it a bit of a chore, albeit recognising the importance of seeking allies to get things done faster and better.
Wherever you sit, you’ll probably have hit a bit of a roadblock when it comes to building relationships remotely.
Maybe you’ve also found that some of your carefully built relationships have melted away? No longer chatting away to someone in the office lunch queue whilst waiting for your tuna sandwich, subtly moving the conversation on to an upcoming project you’d like to be involved in.
Don’t despair! Laughology is here to keep you connecting through a multitude of networking nuggets for remote relationships - and there isn’t a whiff of painful small talk involving discussions about the weather either.
We all know that strong relationships are a mutual blend of give and take. And that, a bit like any investment, we often have to speculate to accumulate. So what are your success stories over the last 12-18 months? What have you learnt? What can you share? Who might find it useful? And how will you share it?
Try showcasing your successes through an online blog. Or sharing it on your company intranet. It doesn’t always have to be work-related either. Many of us have discovered new hobbies, become experts at DIY hacks or designed the ultimate, noise-proof, working-from-home space.
Think about setting up a monthly, online ‘top-tips’ hangout on whatever your chosen passion is.
After all, “Trust is built by spending time together, not necessarily around work-related tasks,” says Scott Schieman, chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto’s St George campus.
It’s a great way to raise your profile, be genuinely and passionately you, and build trust with those around you.
Gone are the days of relying on the trusted ‘elevator pitch’ for when you just happen to step into the lift at the same time as your next coveted networking target. It’s time to zest up your zoom intro.
And whilst you’re honing your ultimate intro, take time to look at your online presence too. Do your profile pics need changing? When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn bio?
Want to reach out to colleagues or contacts of old but not sure how? Write them a letter or send them a postcard. It’s such a lovely surprise to see a handwritten letter dropping onto your doormat.
Ask them how they’re doing, briefly share an exciting snippet of what you’ve been up to and see if they want to meet for a catch up natter.
As the quote from leadership guru, Ken Blanchard, goes, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Have you noticed a colleague’s hard work or new initiative that’s made a positive impact? If so, share the praise and let them know.
Receiving positive feedback is akin to a ‘like’ on social media. We all secretly crave it and love that ‘feel good’ buzz when we get it.
Spoken to someone recently that could benefit from linking up with someone else in your network? Ask them if they’d like an intro. Not only will you help them achieve their goals and expand their network, but you’ll also be seen as an influential connector and enabler.
Simply, turn up on time to meetings. “If you’re late for a meeting while working from home, it’s because your broadband wasn’t working, but if anyone else misses a meeting, you attribute it to their character,” says Heidi K Gardner, faculty chair of Harvard Law School’s Accelerated Leadership Program.
Something we regularly do at Laughology, when we want to create a positive, lasting impression in a meeting, is scrub up and put our cameras on during calls. Consider the smaller details when you’re on camera. Experts believe that wearing shoes is a mental cue that puts your brain on alert.
Once alert, try to stay focussed on how the discussion is unfolding. Use appropriate nods and facial reactions to show you’re tracking what’s being said. Be enthusiastic and engaged. If it's a voice call, it can be easier to tune out and multi-task as no one can see you – but your voice and lack of enthusiasm can give you away and damage your brand.
You want to be someone who’s remembered for your contributions, as opposed to someone who is simply on the line, not adding anything valuable to the conversation.
Consider how you might be coming across to others? It’s easy to mentally drift (or sneakily update your online shopping slot). It’s even more crucial to stay focussed when you’re working remotely, as each and every contact you have with other people has an impact. When you offer a contribution or respond to a question, think about your body language, facial expression and tone of voice. An excellent chance for others to form a positive impression of you.
Think about which of these healthy habits you want to work on and then build them into your day-to-day plan. Become conscious of the opportunities to network and build remote relationships and you’ll soon be building new, exciting and trusted ones.
What other creative ways have you used to build remote relationships in our new world of working? We’d love to hear your ideas.