The days of traditional and organic relationship building stopped abruptly in 2020, and the effects are still lingering in 2021. In person meetings were canceled, and virtual meetings took place. Casual run-ins with coworkers at the water cooler stopped, and the way we meet new customers has been altered dramatically.
With these major changes, many employees are facing these unique challenges:
- Disengagement with coworkers, causing feelings of team detachment
- New employees working remotely struggle to align with coworkers
- The ability to engage with customers has dipped
- Connecting with new customers via networking has slowed
So how do we forge new relationships and strengthen our existing relationships in this virtual world? Follow these tips to guide your relationship building.
Your customers are hiring new staff members and you may no longer be visiting their facility to meet them naturally. Reach out with a friendly hello to start building trust with your new customer. Send an email, schedule a short phone call, or connect on LinkedIn.
If your company hires a new employee, you may no longer meet him or her organically in the hallway of your office buildings. Introduce yourself! It may take longer for your new coworker to feel like part of the team so reach out with fun facts about the company or your role in the organization to start having a meaningful conversation with your new teammate.
Maintain your relationships with current clients.
Your customers’ needs have likely changed over the last year. Reach out to your customers to maintain and strengthen these relationships. If their buying patterns have changed, their industry has been affected by current events, or if their communication with you has gone silent, touch base with them. Understand what is driving their obstacles and be a support for their changing needs.
Schedule virtual team celebrations.
If your team has a success, a new employee, or a work anniversary, celebrate! Using video conferencing as a tool, to facilitate a celebration that allows your team to connect. You can even send party packets to the team's home addresses before the event so they have what they need to celebrate with the team- this packet can contain restaurant gift cards, candy, or branded SWAG. Strong relationships with coworkers are an asset to your team. Enabling employees to create these strong ties during a virtual world is critical to a happy and successful workforce.
Don’t go silent.
Ultimately, to build these relationships, you need to maintain communication. If you go silent, it’s easy to lose the current relationships and impossible to make new connections. Even small touches work great, as there is not always a need for a grandiose agenda. But keep in mind, you don’t want to overwhelm your relationships with irrelevant and time draining touches! There is no need to send a 45-minute no-value-add video, instead, a simple wellbeing check is all it takes to keep building these relationships. You can even schedule reminders in your calendar to remind yourself to keep building your network. Use social media, email, phone calls, video calls, or any other tool that is appropriate for your audience, just don’t go silent!
Start making your connections now! Reach out to a customer you haven’t heard from in a few months, email your new coworkers, or plan a well-deserved Team Celebration.
If you need help developing a communication plan or engaging your employees more, IMEC is ready to help you. Get in touch!
The Communicating for Leadership Success workshop is a foundation course, helping leaders to communicate effectively so they can spark action in others. The workshop teaches leaders the Interaction Essentials they need to handle the variety of challenges and opportunities they encounter every day in the workplace and beyond.