How to showcase your professionalism in a virtual world
September 25, 2020
Working remotely is now the norm, and Friday casual has become a daily event for many.
But real estate agents working from home need to keep up their professional appearance, as it’s no longer uncommon for an initial client meeting to take place on Zoom. And that’s one thing that hasn’t changed: you still only have one chance to make a first impression.
How do you make a great first impression – virtually?
Here are some tips to looking – and acting – your best for your virtual meetings, whether you are going online to meet a client, host, or participate in a meeting.
- Avoid creating distractions: One of the reasons Zoom works well, particularly for those working from home, is its virtual background. Many people don’t have a home office and are working out of a bedroom, dining room, or basement. If you do have a home office, great. But remember that any complex background can be distracting. Also, any movement behind you – pets, kids, or spouses – makes it hard for people to pay attention to what you say during a virtual meeting. A simple virtual background that mimics an office, home office, or meeting room works best. It helps make you look more professional in this setting.
- Think face-to-face: While it’s impossible for a virtual meeting to connect with someone in the same way as in-person meetings, act as if you are meeting face-to-face. That means you need to look directly at the camera. It’s not easy, but it appears to the other person that you are looking right at them. Listen carefully to the other person, and don’t be distracted by your own image. For virtual client meetings, make sure you have your meeting software set to show their face full screen, not yours.
- Don’t dress – or look – differently: Agents have different dress codes, depending on what is customary in their market. For a virtual meeting, don’t dress down. Dress as you would if you were attending a meeting in person. The same rule applies to your appearance. If you want to put your best foot forward, you may not have to wear shoes, but you better be dressed for the part. Remember, your visual image can have a more significant impact on forming a first impression than meeting someone face-to-face. During a Zoom call, you are telegraphing: you are what you wear.
- Don’t be afraid to mute yourself: One of the advantages of a virtual meeting versus one in-person is you can hit the mute button. If you have to sneeze or cough when your client is talking, hit the mute. As long as you are comfortable with the technology, please mute yourself when someone else is talking. If you are taking notes on your keyboard during the meeting, this will avoid the sound of clicking keys drowning out the person trying to talk.
- Be early to your meeting: If you are the host of the meeting, arrive 5 to 10 minutes early. Being early telegraphs that you care and are making the meeting a priority. It also suggests you are well organized and undoubtedly punctual. It’s just another simple way to showcase your professionalism.
- Focus: One of the biggest challenges of any virtual meeting is for everyone to stay focused and pay attention. If you are looking at another screen and checking email during a conversation, it’s akin to checking your phone when talking with someone face-to-face. It is considered rude and unprofessional. Be kind, be considerate, and always listen more than you speak. What’s the easiest way to do that? Ask questions!
- Importance of Electronic Etiquette: Making a great first impression means you must have the technology that puts you in the best light – literally. Invest in a separate video camera, a unidirectional microphone, and a proper ring LED light. Avoid windows or bright lights directly behind you. A meeting can’t be effective when a client can’t hear or see you clearly. High-speed internet access is a must, and if you share a connection with others, ask them not to stream anything during your calls. Also, make sure you are not interrupted during your meeting and try to avoid distracting background noise.
- Restart and test: For any crucial meeting, restarting your computer 20 minutes before your appointment can help you avoid connection and other technical issues. Then test your mic, your camera, and your lighting to ensure everything is in working order.
- Have a Plan B: Stuff happens: your computer could die, you could lose power, or the internet goes down. Don’t panic. Every major video call service offers a mobile app. Be sure you have the app installed on your phone, sign in, and test it. Have a stand ready to place your phone in should your computer call fall. That’s what professionals do – plan for the unexpected!
- Evaluate and refine: If you can record your meeting, do. Use the recording to do a self-assessment of how you did and what you can do next time to improve.
Remember, when you attend a large virtual meeting today and look at the many faces on a Zoom call, you can instantly spot the ones who are professional and those who are not. So can your clients and prospects.
When you make a great first impression virtually, you can win over a new or existing client every time.
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