With a nod to Mark Twain, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Likewise, the laws of interpersonal networking have not been repealed! Evidently, the fundamentals to interact with other human beings remain intact. Yes, social norms evolve and viruses re-write proper behaviors regarding personal space. Nevertheless, human interaction, clear communications, and their business impact is still essential to our quality of life. No number of endless virtual meetings, texts, or voice messages will change the fact that people connect with people. Furthemore, business is transacted, relationships are honored, and virtual currency is spent. To help people who are slow to accept the new normal, realize that adaptability and networking are the social skills that now carry disproportionate weight.
Consider the case of referrals. Referrals remain an amazing example of facilitating social capital and business interactions. A referral consists of one business professional transferring their credibility to another individual for the benefit of facilitating a transaction. Simply put, one person tells a second person, that a third person will take care of the second person. The second person believes him, the third person in turn delivers. Everyone is happy and new relationships potentially emerge. This fundamental of exchanging like and trust is essential to ongoing business success among individuals.
Nevertheless, in virtual environments, the steely look into a counterpart’s eye and a firm handshake is still somewhat missing in the transaction. What is important is that the transaction does not lose any value in the revised interaction. A heart-felt text can be a credible substitute. What remains important is the resource sharing and trustful recognition among professionals. With new capable and grateful professionals participating in current and future growth interactions, the quantity of people with whom to connect grows. Additional resources emerge. The network increases!
While business transactions are clear economic drivers, the ability to exchange information carries significant value, as well. The virtual world has created many interactive inconsistencies in communicating. The economic savings of less airfare and travel time to execute certain meetings has been a pleasant financial benefit. On the other hand, the longstanding prominence of jumping on an airplane to connect with a distant colleague eye-to-eye has become less practical. In this environment, cost savings typically override bruised egos. Nevertheless, this trade-off still has shortcomings to navigate that impact both business transactions and networking.
For example, can you truly trust someone who has a fake background on their video screen in their virtual office, and you are secretly questioning if they are really wearing pants? Nevertheless, despite who is on the virtual call, where they are located, and what is their personal agenda, the process of grabbing a coffee and planting in front of a screen is convenient. Still, non-verbal cues are still essential to maximize communication; yet bad odors and clammy hands are non-existent in the virtual world. Fundamentally, the connections from a virtual meeting are real. The results create real opportunities. The professionals who convey trust and confidence tend to have a tangible advantage.
Ultimately, networking remains an essential business skill. Communicating with other professionals regardless of their physical environment, their cultural background, or their emotional distance remains a valuable skill. Conveying like and trust, while pursuing a reciprocal exchange in information or value, represents the foundation of successful networking and business growth. In larger virtual meetings people can get lost with whom they are connecting. Nonverbal cues become more valuable if someone watches a counterpart’s behavior through a panel where the target may or may not be looking in return. Uncertainty abounds. Checking for understanding becomes more critical. “Was that delayed smile really for me after my insightful comment? Am I sure?” Nevertheless, maximizing all tools and techniques in virtual meetings will yield significant advantages. If the virtual communication channels do eventually become overwhelming, remember the chatbox! If the matter continues to escalate, then text! Be sure to get the message right.
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Hunter And Beyond, LLC