What now? What Preparation looks like in the time of COVID-19

If you’ve been following my previous posts, you’ll have seen I had done a blog post a little while back on preparation and some best practices in order to put your best foot forward.

All these tips can be adapted professionally as well as personally in your social circles. That said, the types of meetings and community interaction we are experiencing is not the norm, or at least wasn’t until a few weeks ago. And while it probably looks a bit different, I challenge you to still prepare for what lies ahead.

Whether that be virtual networking events, social happy hours, or client meetings, there are a few steps you should be take prior to any digital meeting. Preparing in a world of unknowns can be daunting, so I’ve included a few check lists below for you to follow as you navigate this new world.

For every online gathering, be sure to

1. Check your internet connection. Are you close enough to your home router that the connection will be smooth?

2. Check video connection. How does your lighting look? Place your set up so that your lighting source is facing you – not behind you!

3. Do you have a designated space and what’s in the background? Your bedroom pillows may not be appropriate for a professional call but could be welcomed for a friendly social call.

4. Does your sound work? If you are connecting with a separate microphone or a headset, ensure the proper input is enabled so you can be heard.

5. What platform or software is being used? Webex, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts/Meet are popular ones right now. To use, do you need to have it pre-downloaded or can you join from the web?

6. Set your calendar reminder to join 3 minutes early. No one wants to be the video that pops up after they started or chimes the sounds notifying everyone of your entry.

For virtual networking events, take a moment to

1- Identify what type of event is it – are you socially engaging through breakout sessions, is it purely educational, will there be a time for Q&A?

2- Ensure you have access to a quiet space and a notebook or online digital space where you can take notes and engage with the online dialogue. Make sure you can make the most of this event and put yourself out there!

3- Do you need to make yourself be presentable or can you participate with your video off? Some webinars or education events don’t allow participants to engage live or via audio/video so no need to get fully done up for those events. Sit back, relax, and learn!

For client meetings in this time of virtual community, it is important to

1. Do a dry run of the meeting, especially if you are hosting and leveraging a screenshare or breakout rooms set up. Preventing technical glitches will be your key to success here.

2. Identify your goals and a brief agenda so you know what you want to accomplish.

3. Answer your own questions. What do you know about who you are talking to? More importantly, identify what you don’t know and either do more research or mark it as something to inquire about on the call.

4. Make sure you have your list of ‘need to know’ in order to qualify them as an ideal client or move forward on a project.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice – Now is the time to talk to yourself, no one will think twice I promise. There is a lot of content being distributed and services being offered. Make sure you get the chance to clearly communicate your offerings and be productive during this time. You only get one first impression.

7. Time is valuable – join 3 minutes early ahead of your client to ensure they are not waiting for you (and you can make sure you set up is perfect!)

Social happy hours, while more relaxed, should also be consider when prepping for your week. With these, there is only one thing I’d recommend keeping in mind: How many social gatherings have you had this week?

Also, who is attending and does this social interaction ‘light you up’? Especially for us introverts, being home with our significant others and families 24/7 and having information overload, this can be an exhausting time. It is OK to say no to an event in order to recharge and take some time alone!

These recommendations have come 100% from trial and error on my part throughout the last few weeks as well as my time working remote for many years. That said, I am sure it is not all encompassing, so do you have anything to add? Share in the comments!

About the Author

Emily Gorrie is a sales and business strategist with a background in corporate sales. She works with businesses who are looking for strategic direction to scale their business. If you’re interested in learning more or working with Emily, check out her website EmVP Consulting.

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