Personal Connections in the Digital Age: How to Create Business Relationships That Last

by in Best Practices, People

Businesses thrive when employees and clients feel like they’re cared for and connect on a personal level. A Harvard University study shows that only 15% of the reason a person gets a job, keeps a job or advances in a job is related to technical skills and job knowledge, while 85% has to do with people skills and building personal connections. So what is the best way to build truly authentic relationships that last? Among other things, meeting face to face consistently helps you connect with your teammates, colleagues and customers on a deeper level. If meeting in person is not an option, video conferencing serves as a great alternative. In this blog, we look at what personal connections are and why they are so important for modern business, and we provide helpful tips for creating relationships that last.                                                                                                     

Lady with her young daughter on a video call               ;  

What Are Personal Connections?

Simply put, personal connections are interactions with more depth and substance than surface-level greetings or small talk. A personal connection is a genuine bond formed between two people wherein each person feels seen, heard and known. Whether or not we’re able to acknowledge it, each of us carries an innate need to connect with others.

Why Are Personal Connections Crucial for Modern Business?

Nearly everyone interacts within a range of relationships on a daily basis — with immediate or extended family, with social networks or close friends, with neighbors or community members and even within the workplace. Personal connections and meaningful relationships are crucial for modern business, as they’re the foundation for sustained partnerships and successful collaborations. By connecting with your team, your partners and your customers on a regular basis, you’ll make strides in generating a sense of loyalty, trust and satisfaction with your company.

Increased client trust

Creating space for honest conversation is essential to making personal connections, but to do that, trust first needs to be established. Trust is typically achieved over time, as intentional interactions compound to form an authentic, lasting bond. Clients will feel comfortable trusting a company when they know they’re being cared for and their needs are being met every step of the way.

Increased client retention

Meaningful connections are a companion to increased client retention. Clients are much more likely to stick around when they feel like they’re a priority and when they know you have their best interests in mind. To ensure that your clients feel consistently cared for, you’ll need to show you’re committed not only to supporting them but to seeing them succeed. 

Happier team members

When proactive steps are taken toward personal connections, team members will ultimately be more satisfied with their jobs. These efforts might include regular check-ins with a supervisor, candid conversations to work through concerns and appreciation of a job well done. Happier teams experience less turnover and see better results, as their connectedness translates to stronger teamwork and enhanced productivity.

5 Personal Connection Tips for Your Next Video Conference Meeting

When you start developing connections on a deeper level, you’ll reap dividends in both the short and long term as your relationships flourish. The following are a few ways to enhance your video conference meetings and connect on a deeper level.

1. Don’t get right into business

In the same way athletes and artists warm up before a big game or performance, take the time to ease into your meeting. Prior to delving into the details, spend a few minutes on small talk or casual conversation to help participants feel welcomed and included on the call. Incorporate a few ice-breaker questions and activities at the beginning of the call to get everyone warmed up and help coworkers and clients get to know one another on a personal level.  Be careful not to run over schedule, but also understand the benefits of connecting with the group and creating a sense of community.

2. Don’t get distracted

One of the worst ways to damage a personal connection is to seem distracted during the conversation and give the impression of being bored or aloof. It’s no secret that our minds are constantly inundated with distractions pulling us in every direction, but staying focused is paramount. Before you log onto your next video conference call, be sure to silence your phone, close unnecessary tabs in your browser and turn off any music or competing sounds. Having someone’s full attention is so infrequent these days that being fully present has become invaluable in our relationships.

3. Ask them how they’re doing

Too often we’re so caught up in our own day-to-day lives, we don’t pause long enough to check in on the people in our social circles and at work. A little effort can go a long way in new relationships or long-standing friendships, but especially among remote workers who don’t see one another on a regular basis. During a video conference, be intentional about asking your colleagues how work has been going lately or if they have any new projects coming up. As simple as it sounds, asking a fellow team member how they’re doing matters greatly and has a direct correlation to how connected a distributed team feels.

4. Be an ally

Being an ally in the workplace means showing up and offering support to coworkers or clients in whatever capacity is necessary. It means expending energy to help other people succeed and ensuring that they have the opportunity to thrive. Whether it’s in regard to a remote employee or an existing client, ask yourself, “What can I do to make their life easier?” This doesn’t imply offering less work or undercharging for a project, but it does involve providing additional clarity, being an extra set of eyes, providing a helpful hand or having an uncomfortable conversation. Allyship comes in many forms, but ultimately it prioritizes others’ needs before your own.

5. Offer a compliment or public praise

There’s a fine line between giving a compliment that’s self-serving and one that is truly edifying. Sharing thoughtful, personalized praise can turn someone’s day around if offered in the right context. For example, if you express positivity about a colleague’s idea or input on a video conference call, it shows you’re paying attention and that their voice is valuable. Additionally, complimenting someone’s knowledge, experience or actions is a great way to boost morale and encourage everyone to keep working hard. If done well, it can be a real win for the entire team.

What Matters Most When Creating a Personal Connection?

Sincere human connection and personal interaction require us to engage our senses, to be fully present and to actively participate in the interaction. Below, we look at what matters most when creating these personal connections. 

A friendly voice

It may seem obvious, but having a friendly tone is important in building personal relationships. When communicating with your clients, try to be mindful of your voice and speak as though you are having a conversation with a colleague or close friend. This is a personal touch that can go a long way. Show respect for the other person or party but remember to stay relaxed, friendly and personable. Sounding too stiff may hinder the flow of the conversation and prevent a personal connection from forming.

Eye contact

Whether you’re having a casual chat or a formal discussion, eye contact is a significant piece of the communication puzzle. Maintaining eye contact sends the message you’re actively involved in the conversation, rather than being distracted by something else in your environment. The person speaking will feel respected and heard, which means they’ll be more likely to open up and establish a connection with you.

Calm posture

Our body language can convey so much, even when we’re not fully aware of it. From our facial expressions to our posture and gestures, our physical behaviors transmit information that our words sometimes lack. For this reason, it’s good to be aware of your posture around colleagues or clients  and to try to embody a calm demeanor. This will help indicate you’re open to what the other person has to say and put them at ease to communicate freely.

Video Conferencing Helps Transform Your Employee and Client Connections

Since human interaction relies heavily on nonverbal cues, communicating face to face is incredibly beneficial to our personal connections and building authentic relationships. If meeting in person isn’t possible, video conferencing is the best alternative that still allows you to respond to the other person’s body language and nonverbal communication. Jumping on a video call with a client or team member is an opportunity to learn from their expressions, movements and physical reactions, not just from the information exchanged audibly.

While phone calls, emails and chat apps are all useful, they don’t provide the same nonverbal context clues that occur with face-to-face interactions. Video conferencing invites people into your whole world, painting a much broader picture and lending itself to higher productivity and connecting on a deeper level.

Conclusion 

In today’s fast-paced world, having a genuine connection with someone is quite rare. Connecting on a personal level takes conscious effort and a considerable amount of time, but the outcomes of exceeding your team’s expectations or earning your clients’ loyalty are certainly worth it. With communication technologies like video conferencing now widely available and easy to use, we have ample opportunities to strengthen our personal connections and grow our business in the process.