The world of work is changing for professionals. Two factors are changing the nature of how we work: geographic dispersion caused by corporations increasing the reach of their organizations around the world and growing multiculturalism as people interact across the countries regularly (Adler and Gunderson, 2008). Many of us now participate in meetings from our home office, in cars, airports, or trains, as well as in the office. Whether you work on a global team that has members in every region of the world, telecommute from a home office, participate in a virtual classroom, or you spend your days traveling to do business, learning how to shine virtually is a new skill that is required. Here are my 5 tips for making virtual work for you:
- Frequent check-ins. Your boss or professor may know that you’re working hard where ever you are, however, it’s up to you to let them know that you’re doing an amazing job. Checking in frequently with updates on projects, success stories, questions about their priorities and new ideas for continuous improvement will show that you’re the same go-getter that always exceeds expectations. You can send a text message, email, or pick up the phone and call. Don’t wait for him or her to call you to see what’s going on in your area.
- Keep it professional. When you’re on a call its easy to get so relaxed that it comes through in your voice. Remember to sit up straight so that your voice sounds professional and clear. Put your phone on mute when you’re not talking to cut down on background noise. Jot down the names of people on the call so you can address people by name and by all means participate. Make sure that you add value to any discussion and ask questions if you don’t understand or didn’t hear something that was said. Chances are others didn’t either.
- Master virtual body language. We all know that over 70% of communication is done with body language and not words. This means that if no one can see you, it’s extremely important to use your words more effectively to get your message across. Build up your emotional vocabulary so that you can describe what you’re feeling to others. For example, “I’m very excited about this proposal and wish that you could see my enthusiasm over the phone!” You can also use mindfulness to focus on the emotion that you want to convey so that it comes across in your tone of voice.
- Get a professional headshot. You want people to put a face with the name so put your best face forward. Use a picture in an introductory slide when doing a virtual presentation so that everyone knows who is speaking. Keep your picture up to date on internal collaboration sites as well as on LinkedIn. Smartphone pictures are okay as long as you dress professionally and take the pic in a professional or neutral setting. Remember, this picture may be the only image some people ever see of you.
- Be a virtual leader. You can demonstrate your leadership ability over the phone as much as you can in person. Great leaders have vision, let them hear about your plans for a better future. A vision is simply an idea that describes something better than what we have today. Great leaders have a strategy for how we get from here to there. What resources are required? What are the steps that we need to take? Great leaders engage others to achieve the vision by understanding their needs and motivations. Get to know other members on your team and what makes them tick. Inspire them by being inclusive and getting their input on your plans. Finally, great leaders get things done. Let your team know about the progress that you are making towards your collective goals. Show that you are pulling your weight.
Working virtually is here to stay. We live in a knowledge-driven and highly competitive business environment so we must learn to shine where ever we are.
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Valeria Edmonds, Masterful You
You can reach me for virtual coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org