Zoom Networking Tips

Join us monthly for tips to support you in your virtual networking efforts!

 
What's The Behind You?
Author: Vickie Wacek, Executive Director of BNI Vermont
Written in March 2021

Because many of us are working from home these days, we can tend to overlook our surroundings because we are normalized to them. Generally this isn’t an issue – we don’t have people coming over on a regular basis to inspect our cleanliness. Or do we?

With Zoom meetings being a regular part of our daily communications, our homes are now telling others a lot about us, just like our attire. So, are you busy attending virtual events, but accidentally showing off a pile of clothes, a confusing pile of books and paperwork, or a cluttered room?

This month’s Zoom networking tip is all about taking your virtual meetings up a notch by considering what your surroundings say about you. For example, I re-angled my camera in my home office to show off my book cases because I like what my hundreds of books say about me! And before each virtual meeting, I look around the room and straighten or move paperwork or even the dog’s bed to create a more streamlined background.

So turn around, right now. What do you see? Do you like what you see? What one small change could you make to take your surroundings up a notch? Maybe remove and item or two, or add a plant, or straighten that picture hanging on the wall. For some of you, you may have an environment that works for using a Virtual Background. Regardless, consider who you are and how you’d like the world to perceive you – then make a choice to say that through your surroundings!


The Black Screen of Death!
Author: Vickie Wacek, Executive Director of BNI Vermont
Written in February 2021

I’ve come to love and hate this saying in Zoom; The Black Screen of Death. I love it because I find it funny in its over dramatization and applicability, and I hate it because of its direct and negative impact on my experience working with so many Vermont professionals.

If you’ve been on a video call, you’ve experienced one or more people clicking out of their video throughout the meeting. Of course they have their reasons (bad connection, children, dogs, or they simply don’t want to see their own video), yet those reasons are rarely shared to create transparency. And if the reason was shared, it was shared once, 3 months ago, but never mentioned again, resulting in visitors having no idea why you never show up to the meeting.

The purpose of these networking tips is to help you find joy and success in your networking efforts!  So today’s tip is about the importance of having your video on at all times during any video meeting you attend. And when life makes it difficult to attend via video, try out these ideas to help you

 ► Bad internet connection? Drive to your local library and access their wifi from your car!

 ► Kids being rambunctious? Try the previous idea, or schedule your meetings and childcare so that they overlap.

 ► Don’t want to watch yourself on video? Right-click on your video image and choose the Hide Self View option. That will allow everyone to see you without you having to see yourself.

The key here is to take your video meetings seriously. Recognize the repeated negative impacts that you send when you turn off your video. And let’s see a drastic and positive impact on your networking with your attentive, smiling face via video!


Quality Breakout Rooms in Zoom
Author: Blair Knowles, Realtor with Ridgeline Real Estate and President Alumni of Prosperity BNI
Written in January 2021

Our chapter added “open networking” back into our Zoom meetings a few months ago and we’ve experienced rave reviews. We were all missing the one on one or small group networking at the beginning and end of our meetings. Breakout rooms were the online solution. They were also a logistical challenge and it took several tries to get them set up properly.

Do you know how to create breakout rooms? You may think your President or your Technology Coordinator will always do it and that you don’t need to be able to create breakout rooms. I would urge you to be ready to step in and help with break out room creation! In the online world, this has been my favorite skill in my leadership toolbox when leading meetings in BNI or in my own company. There is a lot of power in being the designated breakout room person. You control who gets to network with who, including yourself! It’s also a skill that requires a little finessing.

In this video, I highlight my two top tricks when creating a breakout room. The first trick is to assign members manually to rooms as opposed to automatically. My second tip is to create several more rooms than you think you will need before opening rooms. You can never have too many rooms but it is easy to have too few! Once you open the rooms no more rooms can be created. To learn more, or just to see my childhood teddy bear, give my video a quick watch. Happy networking and I hope to catch you on Zoom soon!


I Can See You! Better Lighting in Zoom
Author: Blair Knowles, Realtor with Ridgeline Real Estate and President Alumni of Prosperity BNI
Written in December 2020

Nothing kills your professional look like bad lighting. AND if you are anything like me, thrifty Vermonter that I am, you won’t be spending money anytime soon to enhance your “Zoom Look”. Just the thought of such vanity sends shivers down your spine.

Never fear, there are solutions to your problem in your office and home. In this video, I showcase how you can use the items that you already have to sharpen your look online. My top tip is to place a lamp behind and above your computer screen. In my setup, I have removed the lampshade for extra illumination.
To learn more, or just to see what my war zone of a desk looks like on an average workday, give my video a quick watch. Happy networking and I hope to catch you on Zoom soon!


The Keyboard is Calling!
Author: Vickie Wacek, Executive Director of BNI Vermont
Written in November 2020

For decades we have interacted with computers. Day in and day out we multitask – responding to emails, writing proposals, sending out invoices, and interacting on social media. However, there is a new way that we’re learning to interact with our computers – to network with other people via platforms like Zoom. This in and of itself seems a simple enough concept for our ever evolving brains to comprehend. However, when thrown in with years of multitasking, we’re experiencing the ever addictive need to be interacting with our keyboards while we are networking.

Giving someone our full attention while networking is critical to the results we achieve. We’ve learned this through our years of BNI membership and when communicating with customers. But our dopamine driven brains make it difficult to get off the keyboard. So, when you next find your webcam on while enjoying a training, giving a presentation, or talking one-to-one with another individual, make sure to leave your keyboard alone. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re taking notes or sneakily chatting on the side with someone else – you’re still not giving someone your full attention. In this Zoom-driven world, we want to see your time spent with others gain you the best opportunities available!


Excuse Me... What Are You Wearing?
Author: Vickie Wacek, Executive Director of BNI Vermont

Written in October 2020

Don’t you love working from home? It means getting a few more minutes of sleep, taking a few extra moments over that first cup of coffee, and the freedom to wear whatever we want to work. For me it’s meant an increase in jeans and slippers, and a decrease in trousers and high heels. But there’s no reason for our clients, referral partners, and co-workers to know! See, the thing about PJs, t-shirts, baseball caps, and bedhead is that it tells anyone who sees us that we’ve stopped caring. It says that we’re no longer in the right head space to be productive. So take a few minutes to throw on a clean shirt, to brush your hair, and take some deep, cleansing breaths. Remember that every time someone sees you, regardless of how long you’ve known one another, you are still communicating a LOT about your mindset. You don’t want to people to interpret your lazy clothing as being unfit to do business. Yes, we still judge a book by its cover, and your clothing is your cover. In short - in this world of Zoom meetings, make sure you dress appropriately.

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