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Influencing While Working Remotely: Webinar Recap

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As we continue to adjust to our current reality of working 100% remotely, TAO has begun bi-weekly webinars hosted by our Executives in Residence (EIR) utilizing their practical experience to help our member base.

Our first, Influencing While Working Remotely, was held on March 26th with over 20 attendees from our community. The webinar, led and moderated by Executive in Residence (EIR) Jim Switzer, was packed with insightful tips from the EIR’s and our member company attendees not just on how to influence remotely, but also some tips on how to work effectively remotely. 

FIND THE WEBINAR HERE

 

Opening challenges from attendees:

  • Randall Brous from MPulse Software said that they are doing many acquisitions. It is a challenge to bring new employees into the fold remotely without any onboarding in the main office. It’s not just training them in their new jobs but also bringing them into the new company. This topic didn’t get directly addressed in detail during the call and is a subject for a follow-on conversation.

  • Another attendee commented that they have a Portland centric company and most meetings are in person. Being pushed out to home offices, it feels like it is 500 miles away. It is super helpful to be prepared. Now he has the ability to move from meeting to meeting in 30 seconds but is missing the human connection that happens in the hallway conversations during meeting transitions. The good is that it eliminates hallway decisions outside of the meetings. 

  • Ben Parish from Graybox said that everyone is now a little siloed and it is a challenge to understand the vibe and morale. Looking for tips and tricks to get the vibe of the place.  JJ Switzer from Nike referred to these interactions as “relational touchpoints”, to have leverage as you ask others to do something. It is hard to have the relational intimacy needed to get buy-in from your stakeholders. 

  • Steve Corbato of Link Oregon mentioned that he misses the ‘endorphin’ kick from being around his team. Slack was a toy before. It is a vital part of their repertoire now. As one person alone in the room, you have to believe in yourself and your leadership creds.  

  • EIR and panelist Rick Campfield shared a few ingredients to increase remote working effectiveness, including setting rules with family, establishing a routine and work start and stop time, and setting up an office space that is conducive to productivity.
     

Effectively using the tools at hand:

  • Steve Pao, EIR and panelist, highlighted several technologies to consider using to improve communication, including Slack and Microsoft Teams for ad hoc collaboration as well as Asana and Monday.com for task tracking.  While conferencing tools, such as Zoom, WebEx, StarLeaf, Uberconference, and FreeConferenceCall.com, get a lot of attention, they are only one piece of facilitating remote work.

  • JJ gave simple rules on which tool to use:
    “If it’s formal, e-mail. If the house is on fire, text. For everything else, Slack.”
    They also use Asana and Trello for project management tracking with daily 15 min standups – what you have done, what you are about to do and what is standing in your way so that management can address it. 

  • Steve Pao echoed JJ’s comments and also mentioned how important it is without visual clues to set a Slack status for you and others to have space when needed. 

  • Another attendee stated that he has two monitors, one dedicated to communication to monitor Slack and Google chat, and one for the meeting or work at hand. 

  • Mark Neuhausen, EIR and panelist, said that everyone should turn their cameras on to be able to see each other and minimize distractions. Rick pointed out that body language is 57% of communication. 

  • Rick leverages the CRM tool as a mechanism to check and balance each other.

  • Many attendees said their companies held all-hands meetings, and though often they were short, it was helpful to feel connected to each other. 
     

Influencing co-workers: 

  • Rick mentioned the importance of having conference/video calls at least weekly with your teams, and including both unstructured time to maintain camaraderie and structured time to maintain accountability. 

  • Mark pointed out the importance of preparing for every meeting just like you would if you were in the office. Steve added to that concept stating that there is always the meeting before the meeting, the meeting and the meeting after the meeting. Figuring out a way to structure that is key in influencing attendees. 

  • Mark mentioned that being the first one on the meeting and greeting each attendee personally as they entered will help build relationships as will following up with attendees if there is not a common consensus on the outcomes of the meeting. Having virtual coffee or happy hour can also bring groups together or be used as a way to resolve an issue one on one.

  • Many attendees mentioned that showing more of your work area, especially in one on one video meetings, is a great way to build rapport. Showing your kids or something interesting in your home office can build connections. 

  • EIR and panelist Greg Jorgensen talked about how to handle interdepartmental communications where there is tension like with inside sales/marketing and the external sales force. You have to be very present in a video or phone call. Have a point of view and share that point of view. Make sure you follow up on agreements and next steps. 
     

Influencing customers and selling virtually: 

  • Greg Jorgensen pointed out that you need to be authentic and just like in person, it is important to listen more and talk less. Learning about the company in advance of meeting them is critical to influencing them.  

  • Ben stated that having a pre-meeting in advance with all having the same lines of notes and understanding of the meeting structure and a post-meeting on how it went is necessary. Greg pointed out that you need to create an agenda and send it to the customer in advance. 

  • Randall has noticed that people are much more likely to be nasty or short on e-mail, nicer on the phone and much nicer on video. They ask their sales to present on video even if the customer is not ready for it to get the rapport. On video, people recognize that they are working with humans. 

  • To the question of how to personalize and humanize yourself digitally? Mark answered to try to offer something that they don’t have like best practices. His motto is offer before you ask. Greg said that it is all about the insights and do a deep dive before you meet. You can always influence with insights. Think about what they are doing in the next 30 days that will impact the following 30 days and how that will drive the business forward in the last 30 days, especially for companies working on a quarter. 

 

The Executives-in-Residence at TAO offer a broad range of experience and would love input on future topics. Please contact Rylee O’Brien at rylee.obrien@techoregon.org if your company is interested in sponsoring a webinar.


MODERATOR

Jim Switzer.jpg

Jim Switzer
President | Managing Director
LaunchPath Strategy Consulting

PANELISTS

Steve Pao.jpg

Steve Pao
Principal
Hillwork, LLC

Mark Neuhasen.jpeg

Mark Neuhausen
Executive in Residence
Self-Employed

Greg Jorgensen.jpeg

Greg Jorgensen
Principal
Jorgensen Brand Group

Rick Campfield.jpeg

Rick Campfield
Founder, CEO
ConsultantDeck

 

 

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