How we define socializing “at work” and networking has changed drastically in the past two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Now, we’re all plugged into the digital realm. Most connections are made from our home offices over video rather than face-to-face.
Since 2020, Zoom has become one of the fastest-growing apps of the pandemic. It is now the number one platform for businesses and professionals to connect and network, with meeting participants increasing by 2900 percent.
While we may be used to it by now, many still find it challenging to successfully network on Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. Those who spent much of their professional career networking in person find that networking on Zoom is less personal, and connections feel superficial. It can also be more difficult to establish these connections in meetings and other virtual events when pressed by time.
Networking on Zoom can add some barriers
Multicultural networking on Zoom is an additional challenge, adding in cultural differences, language barriers, and other factors complicated by virtual communication. Miscommunication and awkwardness are likely to occur online if individuals are not prepared. Some participants may feel left out or unwelcome in multicultural settings if they are in the minority or others do not include them in conversations.
However, preparing for virtual multicultural networking on Zoom is not difficult. Below are some tips that will help you breeze through your next virtual meet-up and make those crucial connections!
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6 Tips for multicultural networking on Zoom
Variety is the spice of life, which extends to our networks and professional circles as well! We need diversity in our networks, and a good network will naturally be diverse so learning how to navigate multicultural spaces is essential. Navigating these spaces online creates an additional challenge, but fear not—with these tips, you’ll be connecting virtually like a pro in no time.
- Moving past miscommunication – Miscommunication happens. Especially online, it’s practically a given that something will get lost or misinterpreted at some point. Add in cultural differences, language barriers, and varied communication styles, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Or not. As long as you go in knowing that miscommunication is likely to happen, you can better navigate the situation if / when it occurs. Instead of assuming the worst, focus on thinking positively and presenting yourself as open and understanding. Others will feel more comfortable around you if they know you are willing to take the time and effort to understand them and work through communication issues.
- Keep an open mind and avoid stereotypes – Stereotypes are ingrained in our society. Often, we don’t even realize we judge others based on these preconceived notions. However, we each need to work to dismantle these ideas. When entering a multicultural setting, keep an open mind. Get to know people as individuals rather than make assumptions about what they might be like based on stereotypes.
- Start small – If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of networking with large groups over Zoom, try participating in smaller virtual events first. Especially with a multicultural group, it may be better to engage with fewer people to get to know each other and minimize the potential for miscommunication and other obstacles that arise in larger groups.
- Prep before the meet-up – If you’re nervous about going in blind to a meet-up, see a guest list available. If so, you can use this list to familiarize yourself with the others who will be in attendance. You take a few minutes to read their LinkedIn profiles or visit their businesses’ sites and use that info to better connect with them once you meet virtually. Depending on the nature of the meeting, this additional background information could help you curate questions or spark relevant conversation topics.
- Take the initiative – Be an active participant. Whether you’re a total introvert or extremely outgoing, people will be drawn to you if they see you actively participating and attempting to engage with others. You don’t have to be the loudest in the (virtual) room, but your engagement will be appreciated. The more you participate, the more familiar you will become with others. You’ll definitely be remembered. In multicultural settings, the conversation may flow to cultural topics and personal cultural experiences. Being an active and engaged participant in these conversations will show your commitment to cultural inclusivity. Your connections will be more substantial from your active participation.
- Follow-up beyond the first meeting – After connecting on Zoom, follow up! Since many feel rushed or disconnected in virtual meetings, adding cross-platform communication can help to solidify the tentative connections you’ve made. Follow them on social media, send them a personalized LinkedIn note or email, comment and share their content and continue to build that relationship beyond Zoom!
Now that you have some ideas on how to go about multicultural networking on Zoom, get more ideas on how to network during LIVE events with Latino bicultural audiences. Sign up for our newsletter and download our FREE e-booklet, “10 Steps to Happy Networking with Latino Bicultural Audiences”!
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