Brave new world: Forging relationships using your virtual presence

June 23, 2020

Griffin Maloney, VP of Business Development, explains the importance of building a compelling profile in this new normal and the ways executives can elevate their virtual presence.

The COVID-19 crisis has created a global experiment for remote working. Digital tools that have been around for years but often overlooked began working overtime; in many cases, proving that the anxiety businesses had toward remote working was unfounded, because teams remain productive and executives are finding ways to virtually engage clients.

With the economy reopening and people returning to work, will the whole virtual experiment be discarded? Not likely. Global events of this magnitude tend to have long-lasting effects. Remote working is here to stay, and a portion of business will continue to be conducted online.

With this shift toward a more virtual workforce, executives should maintain the virtual presence they created at the start of shelter-in-place mandates and harness its potential to forge relationships and win deals.

Elevating your presence in the digital age

With months of virtual conferencing under your belt, you may already be doing all these, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit them:

Set the stage. Your remote office is your virtual environment and speaks volumes about your professional profile. If you aren’t using a branded virtual background, make sure that your background, whether it’s a bookshelf or wall, doesn’t have a lot of clutter to distract clients. The focus should be on you and your message, not your choice of wall art or family pictures, no matter how delightful they are.

Your office should also be well-lit. Webcams adjust to your source of light, so face toward the light, not away from it to avoid backlight.

Test your technology. Before starting or joining a virtual conference, test that your microphone and webcam are working. An awkward part of virtual meetings is not knowing where to look, so here’s a tip: Keep your webcam at eye-level. Minimize the conference window so it becomes a smaller video screen, and place it near your webcam, so it looks like you’re looking directly at the person you’re speaking with.

If you’re the one hosting the call, review your meeting settings and ensure that all participants can join the meeting’s audio, have control over their own video, and can share screens. If it’s a big meeting, you might want to disable the chime when participants enter to avoid distractions in case someone joins after you’ve started. Alternatively, you can choose the option of “Heard by host only.”

Be present. Part of being present is dressing the part. It’s important to dress professionally, both your top and bottom halves, because it affects the way you carry yourself during the meeting. Being present also means avoiding multitasking at all costs, even if it’s as innocuous as checking your emails. You wouldn’t check your emails at in-person meetings, so why should a virtual one be any different?

Taking your virtual presence to the next level

The post-COVID-19 reality for any industry will be highly competitive, and firms need to stand out from all the noise to win new deals and keep existing ones. But it’s not just noise you have to deal with; there’s also exhaustion.

“Zoom fatigue” is real, and even the most well-meaning presentation can be painful. In this new reality, where people can suffer virtual death by PowerPoint, unique graphics, presentations, and pitch books that are on-brand and on-message become more important. You need to hold the attention of your clients and prospects, and visually appealing materials that can be shared on screen and sent in an email as a follow-up play a key role in forging and nurturing your relationships.

A presentation that’s hastily put together won’t cut it, and this task shouldn’t be delegated to junior bankers or analysts or associates whose time would be better spent in more important activities. Make the most of your presentation and creative design teams to create eye catching and compelling on-brand visual material.

The world is rapidly evolving, taking technology and regulation along with it. Make sure you evolve as well. Your virtual presence is a part of your personal brand. Building your virtual presence as someone who’s agile, tech-savvy, and professional will only make you more valuable to your clients and prospects.

Find out how Williams Lea can help financial services firms navigate this new, post-pandemic normal with presentation and creative services.

How we help

  • Accelerate digital transformation

    Building a digital-first support model through innovative tech-led processes

  • Make pitches more creative and digital

    Crafting powerful rich-media presentations that deliver results

  • Improve speed to market

    Meeting demand through optimized start-up, production and turnaround


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