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networking on zoom

6 Tips for multicultural networking on Zoom in 2022 

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!  

You might be interested: The future of work is hybrid – here are an expert’s recommendations

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. 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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!lift-to-the-top

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”! 

 

You might be interested: Is working remotely a pain? Tips to be more comfortable and productive

 

 

 

hybrid work

The future of work is hybrid – here are an expert’s recommendations

Alanah Mitchell, Associate Professor at Drake University shares expert recommendations for the future of hybrid work post-pandemic. 

COVID-19 has changed the way we work.

Even before the pandemic, the U.S. workforce increasingly relied on remote collaboration technologies like videoconferencing and Slack. The global crisis accelerated the adoption of these work tools and practices in an unprecedented way. By April 2020, about half of companies reported that more than 80% of their employees worked from home because of COVID-19.

That shift was made possible by decades of research into, and then development of, technologies that support remote work, but not everyone uses these technologies with the same ease. As early as 1987, groundbreaking research identified some of the challenges facing women working from home using technology. That included the difficulties of child care, work-home separation and employee growth opportunities.

Since that time, we have learned much more about virtual collaboration. As an associate professor of information systems, I’m interested in what we can expect as we eagerly anticipate a post-pandemic future. One thing stands out: Hybrid work arrangements – that is, employees who do some tasks in the office and others virtually – is clearly going to be a big part of the picture.

One survey from April 2021 shows 99% of human resources leaders expect employees to work in some kind of hybrid arrangement moving forward. Many have already begun. As just one example, Dropbox, the file hosting service, made a permanent shift during the pandemic, allowing employees to work from home and hold team meetings in the office.

The definition of “hybrid” varies in other organizations. Some workers might be in the office a couple days a week or every other day. Other businesses may require only occasional face-to-face time, perhaps meeting in a centralized location once each quarter.

Either way, research does show many companies fail in their implementation of a virtual workforce.

Remote work versus in the office

In-office work promotes structure and transparency, which may increase trust between management and workers. Developing an organizational culture happens naturally. Casual office conversations – a worker walking down the hall for a quick and unscheduled chat with a colleague, for instance – can lead to knowledge-sharing and collaborative problem-solving. That’s difficult to replicate in a virtual environment, which often relies on advance scheduling for online meetings – although that’s still feasible with enough planning and communication.

But if you look at different metrics, in-office work loses out to working from home. My recent research discovered remote workers report more productivity and enjoy working from home because of the flexibility, the ability to wear casual clothes, and the shortened or nonexistent commute time. Remote work also saves money. There is a significant cost savings for office space, one of the largest budget line items for organizations.

Hybrid arrangements attempt to combine the best of both worlds.

It’s not perfect

It’s true that hybrid work faces many of the same obstacles of face-to-face work. Poor planning and communication, ineffective or unnecessary meetings and confusion about task responsibilities happen remotely as well as in-person.

Perhaps the largest issue when working at home: technology and security concerns. Home networks, an easier target for cyberthreats, are typically more vulnerable than office networks. Remote workers are also more likely to share computers with someone else outside of their organization. Hybrid organizations must invest upfront to work through these complicated and often expensive issues.

With hybrid work, managers cannot see the work taking place. That means they must measure employee performance based on outcomes with clear performance metrics rather than the traditional focus on employee behavior.

Another potential pitfall: Fault lines can develop within hybrid teams – that is, misunderstandings or miscommunication between those in the office and those at home. These two groups may start to divide, potentially leading to tension and conflicts between them – an us-versus-them scenario.

hybrid work

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Establishing a hybrid environment

Numerous recommendations exist on the best way to develop a hybrid model. Here are a few of the best ideas.

Meeting too often or with little purpose – that is, meeting for the sake of meeting – leads to fatigue and burnout. Not everyone needs to be at every meeting, yet finesse from management is required to make sure no one feels left out. And meeting-free days can help with productivity and allow employees a block of uninterrupted time to focus on complex projects.

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Listening to employees is critical to making sure the hybrid environment is working. Continually seeking feedback, through one-on-one conversations, focus groups or human resources surveys, is important too. So is recognizing and rewarding employees with in-person or virtual kudos for their achievements. Performance incentives, such as financial rewards or tokens of appreciation including food delivery, help develop a supportive culture that increases employee commitment.

Finally: Both managers and employees must be transparent in their communication and understanding of hybrid plans. Policies must be in place to define what tasks happen in the office and remotely. Access to reliable communications is essential, particularly for remote work. All employees must receive the same information at the same time, and in a timely manner. After all, whether in the office or online, workers don’t want to feel they’re the last to know.The Conversation

You might be interested: Cloffice: The latest work-from-home trend to transform your workspace


Alanah Mitchell, Associate Professor and Chair of Information Management and Business Analytics, Drake University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.