Body language, a handshake – these are social cues we have long relied on but are lost in a virtual world. Plus tightly timed schedules usually mean getting right to the point and taking care of business. These are added challenges today, especially for people in sales.
In my line of work, I have been relying on connecting remotely since well before Covid came along. As I work with clients in Australia, the US, and remote parts of NZ, I have become comfortable and effective at connecting with people despite the challenge of being separated by miles and screens.
How can you connect with others effectively in a virtual world? Well, storytelling is our natural language so it makes sense to use it when we want to connect with others.
Here are my tips for using stories to connect better in a virtual world.
- Use a story to build rapport. If you have been to their area, comment on your experience. If not, ask about what it’s like. Google what’s currently happening where they live. A couple of minutes spent connecting in this way can put people at ease.
I try to find light-hearted things to comment on, a funny thing that happened to me when I visited or something unusual in the news. But if there has been something serious like a recent natural disaster, comment with concern for their well-being. Ask about their experience and show empathy.
- Use your observation skills to pull a story. What’s going on in their background? I once had a potential client with a collection of spoons hanging on the wall behind him. When I asked him about it, he responded with a story about how his grandmother had collected them and how as a kid, he was fascinated. She left the spoons to him when she passed, and he continued to add to the collection.
A simple inquiry allowed us to connect on a personal level with a story before continuing with the business side of things. We were both relaxed and the conversation flowed.
- Spark curiosity with props. A while back, I wrote a blog article about “sacred bundles.” Traditionally, Native American tribes’ had carefully guarded sacred bundles of objects that they used to pass on stories through generations. Your organisation can develop a similar sacred bundle of stories by choosing events that impacted the business. Now, can you come up with an object to represent that story?
Use this opportunity to connect through storytelling while communicating your company’s values and culture. Try placing an unusual prop within the frame of your screen. If they don’t take the initiative to ask about it, introduce it with a “You may be wondering why I have this [insert random object]….” And then launch into a story about it. Just make sure it’s a good one!
With over 30 years of experience, I can help your team learn to tell better stories and build meaningful connections. Contact me for a free consultation.
What are your best tips for connecting virtually?