I will give you a clue – it is a lot more than turning on your webcam 😊
There are three areas that are impacted by not being vividly visible in a virtual world:
- Personal Brand – Brand is key to how we are seen at work however being virtual has reduced the informal and spontaneous exposure we may have had previously.
- Our Sense of Belonging – our need to belong is a very human need, exclusion can cause the same type of pain in our brains that we associate with physical pain. Virtual worlds offer less opportunities for the creation of shared identities in the team which impacts engagement, trust and team effectiveness.
- Quality of Connections – diverse networks improve the quality and quantity of innovation and decision making. Now we are virtual, much more of what we does happens in a vacuum and there are less opportunities for spontaneous networks to form.
So what we can we do to ensure we are vividly visible in the new working world?
- Be More Beyonce – pre-2020 we never would have thought of building our work connections as something we solely did on-line, however if we think about some of the most visible celebrities in the world and the wide reach of their connections – this is something they have perfected. Beyonce has 155m followers on Instagram – who she engages with through being visible and posting regular updates which creates the perception of connection with her followers. Just how often do you engage with your connections?
- (Deep breath for this one…) Ditch Email – in the past we would email a colleague to get help or input but this leads to ‘closed’ and stilted discussions. Instead use a collaboration tool which can enable a more open, fluid conversation. e.g. Microsoft Teams or Slack. That way people can pitch in if they have something to share or simply just by reading what you are discussing it might help them with their challenge.
- Live vs Anytime – We don’t all eat breakfast at the same time each day and we don’t all need to be live for every interaction. Teams that are cross-functional, global, or made up of part time workers or perhaps contractors, will need asynchronous communication to enable collaboration and to build a repository of information. Establish a working charter for how you communicate with each other to help make it clear which myriad of mechanisms to use.
- ‘Like’ What You See – Much like the fallen tree in the middle of the forest – if a post lands in your feed does anyone know you’ve read it? Recognize what others have shared or posted with a ‘like’, and even better a short comment. This serves a dual purpose of letting others feel acknowledged and for you, it highlights your presence.
- Threads have limits – deadlines and clear actions ensure you get what you need from those around you and demonstrate your skills. Impress others with simplicity not long complex messages. If you are collaborating asynchronously its advantageous to get the information across first time – not delaying things by continuingly answering questions to clarify your request.
As we continue to work virtually going forward, thinking about the way we show up online will become ever more important for our teams, our connections, and our careers.
Stephanie Hopper, Director of Development Solutions at Cappfinity, discusses How to be Vividly Visible in a Virtual World at the ISE Development Conference. Click here to request the recording.