Video calls have become commonplace, with many of us participating in online chats and meetings on a daily basis. Here are a few tips for creating rapport and building connections in an online environment.
Before 2020 and “the new normal”, any article about building rapport and connection in interviews and other meetings would undoubtedly include a section on eye contact and body language (leaning towards the person, a light touch on the arm and so on). But what about a meeting that happens over Skype or Zoom? It’s not quite the same and building rapport requires a little more mindful participation. Here are a few ways to create and maintain a connection with the person or people you interact with via video chats.
- Be prepared
Whether you’re having a business meeting, attending an online networking event or being interviewed for a position or contract, always arrive prepared. This means having the meeting app installed and ready to go, as well as pen and paper or whatever else you need handy. If there’s any research to be done prior to the meeting, put some time aside to do that. The more information you have, the better the conversation will flow and the easier it will be to build rapport. It’s also a good idea to know what your intention and purpose is with every video call; what are you hoping to gain from the interaction. If you are prepared, you will naturally create a good impression and be able to engage more fully. Which brings me to point No. 2.
- Be present
Body language is surprisingly evident over a video call. Everybody is looking directly at their screen – in other words, at you. Don’t check your Instagram, look at other websites or become otherwise distracted. It’s a sure-fire way to break the connection between you and the person or people on the other side of the video call. Give the event your full attention – especially if it’s related to your career or business. Besides turning off your phone and ensuring you won’t be interrupted you can also be more present by purposefully getting into a calm and confident space before the call. This might involve a few stretches, some deep breaths, a roll of the shoulders – whatever works for you.
- Identify shared values
Spend a few minutes at the start of the meeting building rapport through light conversation that allows you to get to know the other person a little better. Perhaps you chat about their weekend plans or what their day has been like. “Small talk” can help you to gain some understanding about their beliefs and values. Are they all about family? Do they seem passionate about ocean pollution? Or are they all about innovation and technology? Identifying shared values leads to a deeper personal connection. Be genuinely interested in the people on your screen.
- Practise active listening
Few things build connection more than someone feeling truly heard. As much as you may want to get your point across, make sure you are also listening to understand, rather than merely to answer. If you don’t understand – say so. Ask questions and come from a place of curiosity.
- Show empathy
If you sense that the person you’re speaking to is experiencing an emotion, acknowledge it. Saying “I can sense you’re excited about this project” or “it sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything on your plate” makes the other person feel recognised, which lowers barriers and strengthens connection.
You may not be able to give a firm handshake or use body language too much over Zoom, but by following these 5 simple tips, you can create a genuine connection. And when it comes to awarding a contract or hiring someone for a position, people will always remember those they felt most connected to.