Keys to Establishing Virtual Professionalism

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As virtual work is the norm these days, it’s become increasingly important to establish a professional virtual presence. Virtual presence is as much about our online image as it is about “showing up,” the slang phrase that means being present. Whether you’re a knowledge worker, a manager or an executive, your online image, or lack of one, can impact your ability to create professional, productive relationships with your customers or colleagues. In this post, I’ll explore some of the keys to establishing yourself as a leader through virtual professionalism.

Invest in tools that support good virtual communication

Virtual professionalism starts with getting your message across in a reliable and consistent manner. Tools that support good quality audio and video are a priority for any kind of remote work. The camera and microphone on your company laptop will likely sufficient for this task. Professionals who rely on virtual communication as part of their work must invest in tools that will support high quality audio and video.

  • A free-standing microphone or wired headset will ensure that you have the best possible audio.
  • An HD camera that can be mounted and moved ensures that your image is clear and crisp.

Finally, what is good quality audio and video without reliable internet to carry your message? A strong internet signal with plenty of bandwidth is an essential part of the tool kit for virtual professionalism.

Develop a Professional Virtual Presence

Virtual presence is defined by both the static and interactive components that make up your online presence. The static components include things like the photo used in your profile or the work history listed in a social media profile. But in virtual communication, your presence is also defined by personal attributes like:

  • your expressions and gestures
  • your speaking voice
  • your writing style and tone

Speaking, writing and body movements take on more importance because they are the way we “come alive” online. Professionals working remotely must understand how these parts of themselves can impact their ability to be seen as trusted, credible and reliable.

Create Visibility in Your Workplace

Remote work can make us invisible in hybrid workplaces or to clients that are on the other side of the world (or town). The key to visibility is to communicate regularly and authentically in a variety of formats. Ways to increase your visibility include:

  • Turn on your camera whenever you can
  • Reach out to co-workers and customers regularly through chat tools to stay in touch and provide updates on your work progress
  • Participate in social events virtually or in person, if possible
  • Participate in networking opportunities

And don’t forget the little things. Just including a professional image of yourself in the profile of all apps you use to communicate is a great reminder that there’s a human behind your virtual communication tools!

Communicate Effectively in Virtual Settings

Virtual communication is essential in the modern workplace, and it requires an additional set of skills than those used in purely face-to-face communication. First, the basics of verbal and written communication are a must:

  • Speak clearly
  • Be mindful of your tone and body language
  • Keep your written communication professional and appropriate for your audience

Communicating successfully in virtual settings requires new takes on communication skills that you are already using.

  • Listening – Virtual professionals must know how to listen actively as well as empathetically. Active listening helps you understand what is being said. Empathetic listening helps you hear how the speaker is feeling so that you can respond with empathy.
  • Showing respect -Using people’s time wisely, being prepared for your virtual interactions and spending time reading emails and chats are ways that you demonstrate your respect for them.
  • Leadership – Leading virtually means making a point to communicate about how communication will happen, creating psychological safety online and ensuring that contributions from virtual colleagues or customers are transparent and fair.

Being Self-Aware

Virtual technology removes context from our interactions with others. Verbal and non-verbal queues are often hidden which can lead to misunderstandings. Those working in virtual workplaces must understand how they are being perceived by others in their digital communications. This requires self-awareness.

Being self-aware means to understand how others perceive you. It involves understanding how your bodily and social queues lead others to come to a conclusion about you, your values and your emotions. While you can’t change how people come to their conclusions, you can become more aware of how your actions might be interpreted, or misinterpreted, by others.

“Being self-aware” seems like a big task. Simply understanding that we must be attuned to our behaviors and their reasons is a good first step towards building self-awareness.

Want to build your virtual professionalism?

Virtual professionalism is essential for establishing yourself as a leader in your industry. Do you want to know about virtual professionalism and building your online presence? Take a deeper dive into the skills you need to excel with my free email course Improve Your Virtual Communication.

Published by Susan Moore

Co-chair Charlotte Carolina Club - Carolina Club Ambassador - Former Chair Jacksonville (FL) Carolina Club - Former Carolina Alumni Admissions Program representative

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