Whenever I speak to alliance professionals, they all agree that personal alliance relationships help to cement the performance of an alliance. Like many of you, I have spent the majority of this year behind the screen of my computer, conducting my work through video conversations. That seems to have removed the ability to build personal alliance relationships.
Building personal relationships goes beyond just the language we use. Our full behaviour comes into play. Our body language, looking each other in the eyes, social chit-chat in breaks and even when we move through the hallways of an office. Of course, traditional “wine and dine” opportunities in business is another example. These are all essential elements in building that personal alliance relationship. They add to trust building and allow us to get to know and understand our counterpart better.
Through video conversations these elements are more or less being diminished. In most cases you only see a headshot on video, hence you miss full body language. If I would take a step back to be on video in full, the average screen resolution would probably mean you’d miss my facial expressions. Video conversations are also more focussed, to the point and to the purpose of the meeting. We often don’t allow time for that social chit-chat mentioned earlier.
I believe there is more opportunity in video conversations to build that personal connection than we allow for.
Most people work from home these days, which means that you see many non-business environments in the background. When visiting an office I tend to ask questions about the decor I see around the office. It allows for social interaction and getting to know your counterpart and their company a little better. So, why not ask a similar question in a video conversation? I do, and as such I have for instance had conversations about a piece of an airplane propeller, about a loft bed and about an attic room.
It may sound intrusive as it is someone’s personal space. It doesn’t have to be: a neutral and simple question like “Where are you working from today?” does no harm. You will quickly see if your counterpart is open to a more personal conversation. The question serves as an ice-breaker in the conversation and allows you to build a more personal bond with your counterpart.
How do you build your personal alliance relationships in this home working, video based, climate?
PS: A “virtual coffee” is another way I use to enable the process of getting to know each other. Try it, schedule one here.