Now that we’re into Week 7 of social distancing, if you haven’t already given virtual networking a chance, it’s time to start. There are so many virtual networking events happening on any given day, that there truly is a choice for every personality type.

THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY

In B.C. (before coronavirus) times, you were frequently seen flitting around from networking event to networking event, where you were wholly in your element, meeting new people every day. A true extrovert, you’re used to getting all of your biggest clients one person at a time, through face-to-face interactions. Although you’re dying for some new people to talk to and starting to worry that you’ll never get a new client if this pandemic doesn’t end soon, you’re skeptical that speaking to a face on a computer screen is anything like meeting in person. You thrive off the energy in the room and since you’re sure a virtual meeting won’t be the same, you’ve put off even trying one. You’re secretly hoping social distancing will end sooner than expected so you can get back to ballrooms full of new people to meet.

It’s time to change your mindset and look on the bright side. Virtual networking really is a lot like meeting in person if you give it a chance. Try to make it as close to a live meeting as possible for yourself. Put on business clothes (wear the whole outfit, it’s good for mindset and you want to be wearing something on the bottom if you have to jump up suddenly). Check your set-up, lighting, and sound to make sure you can be seen and heard as well as you would be in person. Set aside all distractions and really focus. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it begins to seem like a “real” meeting if you give it a chance. And now that you don’t have to build in travel time, you’ll have a chance to fit even more networking events into your day. A real boon for all of you social butterflies!

If you love the idea of speaking with as many people as possible, look for a group that’s billed a “open networking” perhaps run on Remo.co, where you actually have a chance to move from table to table on a ballroom map. You can also look for large groups that allow everyone a chance to make an elevator speech, or large groups that have several breakout sessions during the meeting. You know that you miss the excitement of meeting new people. It’s time to get out there and use this technology to your advantage!

THE INTROVERT

As an introvert, you’ve always hated networking events and were secretly glad when social distancing guidelines were implemented. You use social distancing as an excuse to avoid networking completely now and hope that it’s a very long time before you have to feel bad about skipping another big in-person networking event in the future.

There’s a bright side for all of you introverts too. Virtual networking is much easier and less awkward than having to walk into a big room full of strangers and try to start up a conversation. Most of the time, there is a plan to follow and the person running the event will introduce you to people and tell you when it’s your turn to speak. If you don’t like the idea of speaking in front of a large group of people, you can either participate in small networking groups or look for a larger group that is set up to introduce yourself only in the typed chat notes and then be broken into smaller groups for guided conversation. Try to avoid the “open networking” type of events because they may seem too much like the kind you didn’t enjoy in person.

If you’re still nervous, take a deep breath and practice. Have a Zoom session with friends or family to start off. Once you’re comfortable with that, you may want to start with an interest group like a virtual meeting of your Rotary Club or religious institution. You can gradually work up to small group networking sessions with people you haven’t met yet. Just take it slow and you may be surprised at how comfortable it can become.

THE TECH PHOBIC

You hear a lot about virtual networking, but the whole thing makes you nervous. It’s not that you have anything against networking, but you can barely sign into your firm’s Webex or Zoom meetings, so why would you volunteer for additional torture?

There’s hope for you too. Since you’ve figured out how to sign into your firm’s meetings (however reluctantly) you’ll be able to sign into a virtual networking meeting too. And the good news is that once you’re signed in, the organizer does all the rest. He or she will tell you when it’s your turn to speak and when to put notes in the chat. All of those fancy-looking breakout groups are actually pretty simple and the best part is that they’re all done entirely by the organizer.

Just like for the others, the best advice is to practice ahead of time. Schedule a Zoom meeting with friends or family so that you can test your set-up. Make sure you know how to mute and unmute yourself, type notes into the chat, and press the button to allow yourself to be added to a breakout room. Once you try it a couple of times, it will be easy. Then try joining a virtual networking meeting for the first time with some people you feel comfortable with or where you know the organizer, just in case you have any trouble with the tech. Soon you’ll be virtual networking with the best of them!

Whichever personality type above describes you, it’s important to get comfortable with virtual networking. Even when social distancing orders are relaxed, it may be a very long time before people feel comfortable meeting in large groups again. And many people have been enjoying how the lack of travel time makes virtual events more efficient. Therefore, all indications are that some form of virtual networking is here to stay.

You can’t put off business development and networking for much longer or your “new normal” will be an empty pipeline. It’s time to take a chance and try a virtual networking event. If you would like to join ours, we host two Zoom events and one Remo event every week. Just click here to sign up for the schedule and reminders.  Whatever you end up doing, just make sure you do something.

As we begin Week 5 of working from home, it may be time to reconsider how you feel about Zoom interviews.  With coronavirus still ravaging the country, it seems like we will be practicing social distancing for quite a while.  We predict that Zoom interviews will become more commonplace and have already had candidates who interviewed using this technology.  If you had previously been planning to leave your law firm, or the last month has given you some new perspective about how it’s no longer the right fit for you, it’s time to embrace Zoom for the recruiting process.

Our overall advice is to keep in mind that a Zoom interview is a real interview, with real consequences to your job search and make sure to treat it accordingly.  Here are some tips that may help:

  1. DRESS LIKE YOU WOULD FOR AN IN-PERSON INTERVIEW

For our law firm partner clients, dress as you would to go to court or to meet with your most important client.  Generally, this means a suit and a tie for the men and a dress, suit, or the equivalent for the women.  (If you’re reading this and you’re in a different industry, just make sure to dress in the attire that’s expected for an in-person interview in your industry.)

And please be sure to wear the whole outfit!  Not only is it better for your mindset to be dressed in your business clothes for a business interview, but if you’re not wearing pants you can’t jump up and adjust the computer/lighting/microphone or get a wandering child or pet to leave the room.

  1. MAKE SURE YOUR TECH IS SUFFICIENT

Be sure that you have the strongest internet connection possible in the room you’ve chosen for the interview.  Depending on where you live and how good your service is, you may want to consider getting a router booster.

Make sure that you have Zoom loaded on the device you plan to use and that you know how to join the meeting and work the controls.  If your office is currently using a different platform or not doing much videoconferencing, it’s worth investing some time to set up a Zoom meeting with your friends or family so that you can practice.

  1. CHOOSE YOUR BACKGROUND

Everyone understands that we’re all working from home, but you should still try to find a background without less professional things like toys, dirty dishes, empty bottles of alcohol or unmade beds that make it look unprofessional.

If you have a home office, that’s probably the ideal location.  If not, don’t worry, just try to find a plain wall or bookshelf to sit in front of.

There are also virtual backgrounds you can use, but occasionally they either look fake or are not opaque enough, so we would recommend trying to use a real background in your home if it’s possible.

  1. DECIDE ON YOUR OUTFIT AND CHECK IT ON THE ZOOM SCREEN AHEAD OF TIME

You may have a favorite outfit that you wear for important hearings or closings that has always worked for you in person, but you have to remember that it may not be the same on Zoom.  The person you’re speaking to is only going to see your face and part of your upper body, so what looks very professional full length may not look the same sitting down.

It is highly recommended that you actually get dressed in the outfit you plan to wear and sit down in front of the Zoom setup you’re going to use to test it out.  Simply go to Zoom.us and choose “Host a Meeting” and choose “With Video On” from the drop-down menu.  You will then get a chance to see exactly how your background and outfit will look on camera.

  1. PAY ATTENTION TO GROOMING

Everyone understands that you can’t get to the barber or salon during this time, so people will be much more forgiving than usual, but you should still give some thought to grooming.

If you’re shaving, make sure your shave is fresh.  If you’ve grown a “quarantine beard” just try to make sure it looks neat.  For anyone who is overdue for a haircut, some extra product in your hair may help keep it under control for the interview, or if it’s long enough, consider tying it back.

The camera tends to wash you out a little, so women who ordinarily wear makeup may need a bit more on video and women who don’t may want to consider some powder and blush.

  1. DECIDE IF YOU WILL ADD LIGHTING OR ENHANCE THE SOUND

You should make sure to do a Zoom test of your sound and lighting.  Is there a lot of feedback when you use your computer speakers?  You may want to use Air Pods or other wireless headphones.  Make sure to test them with Zoom ahead of time so that you can get comfortable with the sound.  If that’s still not sufficient for you, there are many add-on microphones you can invest in, whether something you put on your desk or a lavalier style you wear.

How is your lighting?  The easiest way to get good lighting is to have your computer face a source of natural light.  Be sure not to have the sun behind you or it can cause shadows that change throughout the interview and may even block your face.  Also make sure not to have any lighting in the frame that causes a glare.  If the background you wish to use for the interview doesn’t have a good source of natural light nearby, there are lights you can buy for your desktop, a tripod next to your desk, or even to clip onto your computer screen.

Amazon has been a good source of these items with a fairly quick turnaround and there are certainly some inexpensive options.

  1. CHECK YOUR SET-UP WELL BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

For the best look on Zoom, you should position your device so that the camera is above you and then angle it down.  This way, you will be more likely to look straight at the interviewer instead of looking down.  This is easiest to do with a laptop, but can also be accomplished with an iPad or other tablet.  You will probably need to position your device on some books or a box so that the camera can be raised a bit.

Again, test this out ahead of time by hosting a meeting with video so you can see the camera height and angle.  Once you’re satisfied with your setup, try to leave it the same way until the interview or at least remember how you had it so you can recreate.

  1. TRY TO MAKE SURE YOU WON’T HAVE ANY DISTRACTIONS OR DISRUPTIONS

Everyone understands that you’re working from home and a certain amount of background noise or interruptions will be understood, but you should let everyone in your home know you’ll be on a very important video and can’t be interrupted.  You should also avoid running the dishwasher or washer/dryer during this time, or having the television on in the background.

You also need to make sure that you won’t be distracted, so put your mobile phone away and disable notifications on the device you plan to use for the interview.

  1. MAKE SURE YOU’RE ON TIME (OR BETTER YET, A FEW MINUTES EARLY)

Just like for an in-person interview you check the address and make sure you know how to get there, you need to do that here.  Make sure you have the Zoom link that your interviewer sent and make you know how to sign onto Zoom.

Just like you leave a few extra minutes to account for possible transit delays or traffic when you head to an in-person interview, you should do so now.  Sometimes there’s a delay in signing onto Zoom and you certainly don’t want your interviewer to think that you’re late or you forgot.  It’s better to plan to be 5 minutes early than to have to explain why you’re late.

  1. MAKE SURE TO LOOK AND SEEM EXTRA-ATTENTIVE

Try to remember that to make your Zoom meeting as close to in-person as possible, you have to be extra engaged.  This may mean leaning into the camera to make a point or slightly exaggerating your facial expressions so that your interviewer knows you’re interested in the conversation.  We recommend using Speaker View instead of Gallery so that your interviewer takes up more of the screen and it’s easier to seem like you are looking him or her in the eye instead of looking down.

Whatever you do, please don’t check your phone or other devices, send an email, or read a text during the interview.  This is the time to be completely focused on the conversation you’re having.

We hope that these tips will help get you started.  We’ll also be posting some videos to demonstrate.  Please feel free to reach out to Gillman Strategic Group with any questions you have or any additional topics you would like us to address.

Working from home. For a lot of people this used to be the dream, now it’s the reality for just about everybody. We’re all trying to figure out ways to make this new situation productive and having to figure it out on the fly. Creating a designated workspace within our home, setting our hours, staying sane while a million other things are going on around us, it’s all a lot to juggle!

A recent article offered some helpful tips to help navigate our new work from home offices. Like with any new job, it takes time to settle in, get comfortable, and create routines to help make the work day more productive.

Tips like get dressed for work every day might seem a little silly. I’m at home, why should I have to get dressed for work? But it’s one way to differentiate the time of getting ready for work from just another morning at home. I’ve personally been wearing business clothes every day if for nothing else than to keep the neighborhood dry cleaner in business. I recently did a Zoom call with a group I regularly meet with for in-person networking, and everyone was initially surprised that we were all required to dress up for the meeting the same as if we had been meeting in person. But it makes sense, it’s a way to hold ourselves accountable to the same kinds of standards we’re used to. Plus we all have our work clothes in our closets, so they may as well get some use especially on days when we know we’ll have videoconferencing.

A career coach quoted in an article I just read says “Don’t underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. It makes you feel human [and] confident ….” By now a lot of us have mastered the hair and makeup touchup, plus wardrobe refresh needed to be presentable for a video call. And not many of us thought we would suddenly have to consider good lighting or camerawork!

“One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. ‘For some people it becomes very blurry,” says Muse career coach Lynn Berger, who specializes in helping people navigate career transitions. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer and your home life can take a hit as well’.”

Another thing to consider is your work environment, which used to be setting up our desk at the office. An issue now is space, obviously, both physical and head space to do what we need to do. Carving that out, in our heads and in our homes, is crucial. The article pointed out some of the challenges depending on your living situation. People generally fall into 1 of 2 groups, either they’re now isolated because they live alone and face that challenge. Or they’re in a different situation, maybe in a house full of other people doing their own work or schoolwork too.

“If you live with other people, this separation is even more critical. Communicate with the people you live with to establish boundaries so you can cut down on distractions during the workday—and then disconnect and give the people you care about your full attention. Having a separate time and space to work will allow you to be more present in your home life.”

Coming up with plans to create some structure for your new daily life can really help. Establishing routines, setting aside designated times to take a coffee break, have lunch, or get some exercise can really help the days feel more normal. A lot of people are coming up with a daily timetable to do things and really try to stick with it. For example, 8:00 breakfast, 8:30 check emails, 9:00 return phone calls, 10:00 work on projects, 12:30 lunch…. You get the idea.

Things may not go smoothly, and real life is likely to present challenges to the best laid plans for working from home. It’s important to not just recognize the problems, but to share ideas on dealing with them.
The article suggests that “the key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. Either before you make the switch or as soon as you know it’s happening, come up with a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check in and how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day. This plan is likely to change as you go. And that’s OK.”
Flexibility and patience are going to help all of us manage things better, whether dealing with co-workers or family. It’s important to go easy on ourselves and also be kind to each other. (A helpful skill when someone at home starts making a racket during your work call!) We all just have to hang in there.

If you want to read the full article (and all the tips), see
https://www.themuse.com/advice/coronavirus-work-from-home-tips

To chat about how Gillman Strategic Group could support you, schedule a call with Jennifer here.