With the current COVID-19 pandemic currently making it impossible for in-person networking events, it is highly important that we are doing everything in our power to find alternatives. Affiliate managers need to be able to still build a relationship with their affiliates, even if it is a relationship that only exists in the digital space. Building a virtual rapport is slightly different from how you would go about doing so in the real world. As we move towards a digital space being the new normal, we need to know how to best build these key rapports.
Build from the Start
We once had the luxury of building a relationship gradually throughout a meeting. While we once would have turned up slightly early, had the necessary discussions, and then potentially on to a meal or even drinks. You had the time to work up to establishing a relationship; to lay the groundwork and then really build.
However, you don’t have that luxury with video meetings. To best build a virtual rapport, it is better to take control and focus the conversation yourself. You know that you have a time limit, so divide up the time that you have. By using five or ten minutes to check in with the meeting participants, you have the chance to place those crucial first building blocks in a relationship before moving on to discuss the content of the meeting.
Close with Casual Chat
Think about the natural path of a meeting in real life. When it is over, do you abruptly stand up and leave without saying a word? Of course not! You usually spend a few minutes discussing something casual before going your separate ways. This is still perfectly possible when operating purely online, and it is great for helping to build a virtual rapport with your affiliates.
It could be as simple as you acknowledging the current situation and offering some anecdote from your own life. This will often elicit a response from those who are also in the meeting, and it is a great way to end discussions on something light.
You need to ensure that you are checking in with your affiliates regularly to ensure that everything is on track. Living in times of global instability like this can also make people feel like they have an unstable personal life, and they will seek out connections where they can. You, as an affiliate manager, need to make sure that you are able to offer such a connection for your affiliates.
It could be as simple as having a quick check-up meeting that lasts no longer than 20 minutes on paper – though there may be the potential for it to run longer. Make sure that it is a video meeting too. We need face-to-face contact to build the best rapport, so ensure that you are using video conferencing tools such as Zoom to their fullest advantages.
There is so much that you can do beyond just holding meetings. While they are a fantastic start, you also need to make sure that you are building a virtual rapport with other small interactions where you can. Take the time to manage relationships through social media by engaging with posts from clients and affiliates. Always add a human touch to it rather than keeping it purely professional.
Though COVID-19 might be preventing us from making connections in real life, it does not mean that you cannot build any relationships. Focus on improving the quality of your virtual rapports with our above tips now.