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Business Communication & The New “In Real Life”

7 min

In my experience working with remote companies, I’ve seen a spectrum of diversity. Some companies have team members scattered across six continents, others have a small team mostly co-located near their home office. Whatever the case, organizations that find themselves working remotely — whether by design or due to circumstance — will feel the impact of distance that a virtual environment creates between colleagues and between customers.

Ask any remote office veteran about the highlight of their remote working career and in most cases, the answer will be the same: “When I got to meet my teammates in real life.” The digital workplace allows for intensive collaboration, high-impact achievements, and a serious sense of camaraderie. Yet when it comes to deepening connections, nothing compares with “in real life” experiences.

Building trust

One of the key pillars to a successful remote work environment is establishing trust, which, not coincidentally, happens to be a foundational element in sales and marketing. Consumers buy from brands that they know and trust. Customers leave positive reviews when service providers can be trusted to deliver on their promises. Just like remote team building, “real life” customer transactions make up the fabric of trust between businesses and consumers.

With the global shift toward social distancing while countless companies move to work from home arrangements, and many brick-and-mortar offices close down, the need for creating a new “in real life” experience across teams and business relationships has never been more acute. 

How do we foster a culture of connection and trust from miles apart? How do we make virtual communications feel more like “in real life”? 

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Communicating for connection

Following the hierarchy below will help you inject more human connection into your digital communications while working remotely:

1. Email

Email is the lowest common denominator when it comes to personalized communications that foster human connection. Email is usually the starting place, whether it’s a virtual introduction or an outbound marketing campaign, a tremendous amount of communication happens via email. When reaching out to a broad audience, a sharply designed newsletter template can go a long way. Getting creative with 1:1 email conversations is also a frequently missed opportunity to inject personality and create a lasting impression. 

Tip: While still super-relevant for asynchronous communications, consider how you can leverage the higher forms of communication through embedded elements or links in your email correspondence, making it easier for recipients to get to know you. Using apps such as Loom for a quick message or a good old fashioned YouTube link are easy cloud-based places to start that won’t bog down your email with large file attachments.

2. Chat

Chat opens up more opportunities for real-time conversations and adds a much-needed personal touch that can sometimes be lost in an email thread. While chat applications like Intercom or FreshChat can be really helpful for customer support and frequently asked questions, the real value is in a human-to-human connection. The sooner you can connect the better.

Tip: Consider inviting your existing VIP clients into private channels within your company’s direct messaging tool (Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.) You’ll feel more accessible to your clients and you’ll have more opportunity for trust-building exchanges without competing for space in the inbox. You’ll also be able to be more responsive to your contacts when their emails aren’t getting lost in your inbox either.

3. Audio

The power of voice. In the age of digital everything, the sound of someone’s voice adds warmth and tone to a conversation that would otherwise require scores of emojis. There are times when text just won’t do the job, and a quick phone call via VoIP can save precious time. Adding this rich layer of real-time communication can quickly cut out the guess work.

Tip: Schedules are busier than ever, so an unexpected phone call can be a real interruption to productivity. Use an app like Calendly or one of its alternatives to agree on a convenient time to talk and automatically generate a cloud-based calendar invite.

Bonus tip: Think outside the phone call. Use a voice message (not to be confused with voicemail) to send asynchronous audio communications. iMessage or WhatsApp are both viable options for upping your game.

4. Video

Video creates the most connected experience of all the communication mediums (outside of emerging VR technologies). It incorporates more senses and reveals the most through body language and expression. It’s been said that communication is only 10 percent verbal, while the other 90 percent is non-verbal. We miss out on so much of the communication experience by settling for other methods. Video is the best avenue for bridging the remote communication gap.

Recently I was taking a virtually guided tour of GetResponse to learn more about its features and capabilities as a tool for remote sales and marketing professionals. Using a video platform for the demo made a huge difference in the experience for me. I felt like I made a new friend more than I felt like I demo’d a product. In my mind I can still hear his accent, I can see the evening sun streaming in from his home office window, and if you asked me if I know Irek, I’d certainly say yes.

Tip: When synchronous conversations aren’t possible, prerecorded video content can be very useful. Rather than a static, text-only document, a prerecorded webinar from GetResponse could be a great solution to share high value information with an intentionally targeted audience.

The new face-to-face communication

Creating a “video on” culture is a great move toward building connectedness. You might be surprised that one of my top tips for helping companies build connection and trust is for them to get very comfortable with video calls. If you’re new to video call platforms it might be unnatural to turn your camera on. The truth is that People want to talk with other people, not a name or avatar on their screen. If you want to be a leader in remote-friendliness for your organization, start by adopting a “video on” attitude not only with your colleagues but also with clients and consumers whenever you can.

There are other great side-effects for remote workers who treat “video on” as the default setting. The motivation is much greater to shower, shave, brush your teeth, and clean up the office. When you know you are going to be meeting a big client, or your colleagues face-to-face, you’re less likely to neglect the little things. Let’s face it, living in your pajamas doesn’t always translate to your most productive self.

The goal is to create trust, transparency, and rapport, and choosing a tool that moves you closer to that goal is important. Webinars are an easy way to deliver valuable information that your clients need while leveraging video to build trust and familiarity with your target audience. Presenters can show a video of themselves, live or prerecorded, allowing their personality and personal brand to shine alongside the product or service.

Delivering content via an interactive video session is probably the pinnacle when it comes to connection opportunities.

How GetResponse helps

There’s no doubt that video is the most effective method for building virtual connections. Now we need to explore the best ways to create opportunities to deliver the experience. How are potential customers going to find out about you or choose to buy-in to your amazing vision, product, or service?

Using email and social media marketing are standards in todays sales funnels. GetResponse customers can use the Conversion Funnel tool to create engaging social media content and beautiful landing pages. These are excellent ways to open conversations and move to a more personal level.

High-converting custom landing pages can set the stage for sharing your message through engaging content. Encourage your visitors to sign up for webinars where they can gain valuable industry insights from you, a real-life person. This is your chance to build a sense of community and deepen the connection with your audience.

Opening communication channels, building relationships, and establishing trust are core components of successful remote organizations, GetResponse has created tools that help you get there.

Reach for the most engaging method that is appropriate for your business and savor the connections you will make!

Read more: See how GetResponse is keeping you connected & your business running.

Lance Robbins
Lance Robbins
Lance Robbins has more than 10 years of operational leadership focused on workforce scaling and growth. Lance has also served as a talent acquisition contractor and advisor to global remote tech organizations. Lance’s commitment to the remote work community is based on his belief that creating virtual work opportunities is the catalyst to realizing its power for positive change. Lance lives in rural NW Georgia, USA with his wife, and 3 children.