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Guardian's Trusted Tools 4/22/2020 8:37:39 AM

How to Engage Virtually

Conducting Business in a Social Distancing World

For better or worse, 2020 is officially becoming the year of social distancing. And as everyone, businesses included, have had to adjust to the current crisis, virtual meetings are more necessary than ever. In fact, they have become absolutely critical to conducting everything from business to school lessons.

Now, a lot of people have been using video conferencing like GoToMeeting, Zoom and Google Hangouts for years, and these applications always had their benefits. But a lot of people still enjoy conducting business in person. And, as you know, real estate is a very personal business.

From showing clients houses, to conducting open houses, and even signing closing documents, the real estate process has always enjoyed a lot of face-to-face time. So, as the spring housing market heats up amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s vital that you begin conducting business virtually. Knowing that this may be new to you, we’ve outlined some helpful tips below to help set you up for success.

Tips for Success

Lighting

Lighting is very important to having a successful video meeting. Obviously, the people you’re meeting with need to see you, and if you’re in poor or improper lighting, it won’t be a great experience. Typically, any overhead lighting in a room will work fine. But, be sure to avoid too much backlighting – meaning light behind you, like from a window – as it can “wash you out” and make it difficult for other people to see you.

Camera Position/Background

This is important because you don’t want to create any unflattering, awkward views for the people you’re meeting with. Countless virtual meeting participants have had to stare up peoples’ nostrils because of poor camera positioning. Before any meeting starts, we recommend checking your camera position to ensure you’re framed up in a professional (and flattering) manner. This is also a good time to check your attire. Are you dressing the part? Just because you are at home doesn’t necessarily mean we should abandon some traditions of appropriate attire. Also, you’ll want to avoid cluttered or distracting backgrounds that could detract from the meeting or give off an unprofessional look.

Background Noise

Eliminate it as much as you can. Now, with most kids home from school for the foreseeable future, this can be challenging. So, we encourage you to find a nice quiet part of the house when you’re meeting, or to even step outside the house if you live in a reasonably quiet area. Let’s face it, background noise is distracting to you and your clients, and the person on the other end of the phone may feel that you are not fully engaged or not taking their phone call seriously with an infernal racket going on behind you. That is the last thing you want. And when it comes to phoning in from outdoors, while no one is going to complain about a little ambient springtime noise like chirping birds, they could become frustrated by strong winds making it hard to hear what you’re saying. Bottom line: be aware, and use your best judgment.

Social Cues

These are hard to detect in a virtual setting. Typically, in-person meetings allow you to “read” the room. There’s just something about being near people that allows you to sense how they’re feeling, or recognize if they have something to add. So, it’s important to practice and make an effort to be aware of and utilize your own cues to keep the meeting going smoothly. It can be something as simple as raising your hand when you want to add a thought. It is also a good idea to remember to pause occasionally, as there could be a delay in sound, and this will give your client room to jump into the conversation.

Screen Sharing

Maybe the most helpful tip of all is screen sharing. While you may have previously emailed your client the document you will be reviewing, screen sharing will ensure you are all in the same place, looking at the same thing. This allows for much greater focus, and minimizes time spent backtracking to clarify questions such as Where is that? or What part are we on?

Make the Best of It

In the end, we’ve all just got to roll with the punches for the time being. So, make the best of your virtual meetings. Don’t be afraid to start them with a joke or some fun trivia. Everyone is experiencing a lot of extra stress right now, and that can increase exponentially if you’re trying to buy or sell a home. It’s okay if your first virtual meetings don’t go as planned. Most of them won’t. But so long as you keep a positive attitude and follow some of the tips we’ve outlined in this article, we’re confident you’ll find success and make the best of it all.

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