Community internally: Construct relationships whereas working remotely

Does the following scenario sound familiar to you? You are relatively new to a law firm or an in-house legal department. Your entire interview process was done online. You really don’t know anyone. How will you be friends with people you don’t see in the office every day? How will they get to know you? How will you succeed in a no-touch, no-space, no-water-cooler, and no-home work environment?

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”

In a normal office setting, you would be trying to make friends with members of your team, colleagues in your practice group, and coworkers in your class. You will learn what office culture rewards by watching what others are doing and listening to the informal gossip hotline. You want your new colleagues to know you as a reliable colleague who is familiar with your area of ​​activity and is a good friend.

In 2020, you’ll still want the same things, but working remotely makes it harder to maintain friendships and learn how to navigate your new environment successfully. This article provides some ideas and activities to help you achieve these goals.

1. Create an action plan

Create a communication plan to organize your efforts, meet colleagues and learn how they do their job and what values ​​are important to them. You want your co-workers, supervisors, customers, and employees to like you and respect your competence, willingness to work hard, and contributions.

Be realistic about how you will be able to demonstrate your strengths and skills in this new environment. During this time, see these relationships as knowledge building, relationship building and first of all as help for others. Use them to instill trust and respect. Look for the individuality within the company or department between people, offices, geography and subject groups. Work on understanding the different perspectives and value systems and identifying those that seem right to you.

Your plan should include:

  • Contact calendar. Schedule one meeting a day either by phone or video chat. These can be fun, chatting, “water cooler” -style encounters, or more serious discussions about how best to approach a work initiative or how others would normally perform a particular task.
  • Prioritized list of the most important people to get to know. This includes colleagues, classmates, your boss, your direct customer contacts, key employees, and so on. Instead of limiting yourself to the handful of people you work with today, consider who you want to meet. Look for mentors, people who can teach you new skills, people who work in areas you might one day want to move, etc.
  • Background research. Take the time in your daily schedule to research the background of the people you want to talk to each day. Your research and the key topics you want to know more about will form the basis of an agenda for conversation that will cover what you want to learn and what you want to share about you.

2. Make a great impression

Online or in person, your behavior makes a statement. Your preparation makes a statement. Your consideration makes a statement. Hence, manage how you look, sound and act.

  • Get to know people’s communication preferences. Start with your boss. Ask which device they would like to speak to you on, the best time of the day to meet you, and how often to call in.
  • Dress appropriately. A September 20, 2020 article in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Science Behind WFH Dressing for Zoom,” states that studying the connection between what you wear and how your brain works shows that ” dressing for work can improve your performance ”. The routine of putting on work clothes leads to more abstract thinking and focus attention. If you change into work clothes,[y]You feel physically different and the clothes feel different, so that your body, which also tells your mind, that this is work time. “
  • Do your homework. Before a meeting, remember the purpose by looking at the invitee list and reviewing the meeting agenda and materials. Think about where you want to contribute. To sound authentic and to be in control of your topic, imagine yourself speaking to someone whose opinion you value. . . [and] You will come across at your best, like in a natural conversation. “[1] Also, practice active listening. Instead of pondering your answer while someone else is speaking, pay attention to what the person is saying and show that you understand by paraphrasing what they said before offering your answer. It is a difficult skill to master, but one that builds responsiveness and shows your empathy, ability to meet people where they are and your interest in creating real relationships.
  • Think about the video etiquette. Sit up like a face-to-face meeting. Remember that you are always visible. So show that you are following conversations by smiling, laughing, or nodding. Also, unless you are speaking, mute yourself. Use the chat function to add content to a colleague such as a relevant article or a private message in the sidebar. When meetings are recorded, the chat box is also present. Share them accordingly. After all, not multitasking. Everyone can see that you are not paying attention. Also, don’t turn off your video for multitasking. People will accept your disinterest.
  • Engage in small talk at the beginning and end of meetings. This makes the meetings feel more natural, like personal connections.

Your communication plan that includes these tips can help you gain informal power at work based on your cross-organizational relationships, your expertise and contribution to projects, and your genuine interest in other people. “Cross-departmental networking, building expertise in new areas, and promoting charisma are all ways to gain power. and make you a point of contact for colleagues. “[2]

[1] Gary Gerard, blog post, Speak for Success: How to Improve Your Video Conferencing Presentation Skills, April 12, 2020.

[2] Sue Shellenbarger, Making Power At Work When You Don’t Have One, Wall Street March 7, 2018.

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