By sharing the challenges before us, we connect more easily
Networking and getting to know each other within the hybrid form of the current 6th cycle of the program may be much more challenging than it is during the gathering in person. For that reason, we decided to rethink together with the mentees about ways we can connect more profoundly when we meet only online.
At the end of December, Relja Dereta, a communication skills trainer, alumni, and longtime associate of the “Creative Mentorship” program, held a Networking workshop. The aim of the workshop was to encourage mentees in direct communication and to recognize the possibilities and advantages of online meetings.
What prevents us from engaging in networking with others?
The opportunity to address someone directly for the first time may provoke negative emotions in many of us or lead to hesitation and questioning: Am I bothering? Am I interrupting communication that has already been established with the other interlocutor? Is my performance too invasive? or perhaps we are hampered by the assumption of a possible reaction to us initiating a conversation? Although we can patiently wait for the moment that we assess as the right one, we should keep in mind that every opportunity to start communicating with someone is also an opportunity to expand personal boundaries and to gain a lot from that exchange. This is important to know, because although the environment and interaction are not the same during online meetings, we may be faced with the same questions and uncertainties that we need to address.
We are sharing with you several methods that can help provide a pleasant and open exchange:
– Presenting yourself in a less conventional way
When we have the opportunity to introduce ourselves for the first time, we should keep in mind that although we have probably repeated many times what we do or what is our position or responsibility in the team, that information is new for the person on the other side. This opens up space for us to talk about ourselves in a more creative way, and instead of presenting ourselves as a director or photographer, we can say that we find creative ways to tell an exciting story through film or that our work helps save moments permanently. In addition to the fact that this can be a good exercise for creativity and changing the outlook on our work, it is very likely that this kind of presentation will be much more impressive than the traditional one.
– Sharing small details from everyday life
Another “trick” we can use in setting a positive note is to single out a small detail from everyday life at the beginning of a meeting or conversation. That can help the interlocutor to relate with us on the basis of similar experiences. For example, to the questions: How is it going? or What’s new? We can respond with an anecdote with a pet or mention some new hobby.
– Mentioning the projects and people we work with
Another way to connect better is to share and briefly describe what we are working on, for example, what a project is focused on, what its target audience is, who do we work with. Maybe we work with young people, or our work is community-oriented. This way, we provide an opportunity to ask additional questions or find similarities that can deepen the exchange.
– Let’s find out together what we can offer and what we need help with
By talking about things we do well or in which we feel we can support others, we create an opportunity for potential new cooperation, friendship, and perspective. This effect will be even greater if we touch on the segments that challenge us and around which we need assistance – in this way we give our interlocutor the chance to offer us help, but also to become aware of domains and tasks they would need helps with or what they can offer themselves.
However, it is possible that despite our good will and effort, we do not perceive the opportunity for cooperation. But, we should take it as another opportunity for exchange of experiences and perspectives, rather than a failure or a reason to give in.
Finally, although online communication can be exhausting and challenging, regardless of its efficiency, it is very important not to lose sight of the factors that Relja especially pointed out: “Online communication can shorten certain steps and save us potential inconveniences during the first meeting in person. All of this is part of a broader process that should prepare us better for the upcoming gathering and that the steps we take now, regardless of limitations, can make a big difference and make communication in person closer and more enjoyable when it comes.”