The New Online Handshake

Part of our new reality of working from home requires an appraisal of our means of communicating with our colleagues and potential clients.  The adage is, “you have seven seconds” to make a first impression. In today’s virtual norm, that time has dwindled to even less, and now, more than ever, you do not get a  second chance to make an excellent first impression.

More and more, our relationships are exclusively online, not meeting face-to-face, so your online persona, your language, your appearance, your online etiquette have now become paramount. As the world is becoming increasingly digitized, this article addresses our new norm in participating in its activities and communicating with others, now known as “Virtual Land.”

Being involved with zoom meetings, live Facebook events, and virtual events, there are   a few obvious things almost continually. This new norm is your only chance to make   that seven-second start, and yet I repeatedly see (unfortunately) people who have not  familiarized themselves with the platform beforehand, so that seven-second timeframe turns out to be spent fumbling.

Please do not wait until the meeting, the event, or the conference, to familiarize yourself with the features you need. You can download zoom and practice as though you are the one hosting a meeting. The first thing I would say is not to wait to join any appointment until the last minute. Join at least five minutes early.

PLEASE pay attention to your mute button on the bottom of the screen. I continuously hear, “please unmute your mute bottom. We cannot hear you!” There is a “raise your hand” button, so please do not interrupt or talk over someone. Then there is the “Dress for Success” mode. No matter what the forum is, people seem to feel that they do not need to dress because they are at home on their computers. So, if you were going to a meeting or event somewhere, you would go dressed in a tee-shirt and not groomed? Yet this is what I see.

Think of any zoom meeting/event as a face-to-face meeting and conduct yourself as though you were around a conference table. That means you are sitting up straight, not laid back or on your elbows, or looking at your phone, which I have also witnessed.

As far as your phone goes, please turn it off and turn it over for any time spent online. I have been on zoom meetings when a phone is left on, and you continuously hear a “ping” very  loudly, signaling to that person, “you have a new email.” Very unprofessional again, not to mention annoying. Please go into a quiet room, so the distractions are minimized, including children yelling or barking dogs.

You are working from home. We all know this presents the good and the sometimes not. Just take a moment and think about this. It can be challenging to separate work life and home life, but that now becomes more important. Get dressed, groom yourself. Do not sit in your pajamas all day. According to Dr. Jennifer Dragonette PsyD, Exec Director of Northern California at Newport Institute, it can lead to dwindling motivation and        productivity. So instead of working in PJs, adhere to my “dress for success” mode. It will send a message to your brain that can affect your self-esteem. The same holds true for eating at your desk. Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at UC-Davis who studies the workplace’s psychology, says getting away from your desk can boost creativity.

So, while your regular business routine seems worlds away right now, remember that making YOUR norm, and displaying professionalism, will always equal success.

Evelyn Cannata, CEO Etiquette by Evelyn




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