How to Maximize Your Communication Skills During a Pandemic
When people started quarantining in March, lots of business owners and advisors scrambled to adapt their previous office routine to productive work-from-home spaces. Months later, quarantine mandates may not be as strict, but many people are still working from home, and for a lot of advisors, working remotely could become the standard for a while. The good thing is, you can still connect with clients while working remotely—if you have the right resources.
Our team at LMG works with advisors across the country, and about half of our team works remotely. We’ve been holding virtual meetings since before they were cool, so we thought we’d share some of our best practices for staying connected with clients digitally. If you want to optimize your digital presence and maintain personal connections while you WFH, read our tips below.
Communicate as Humanly as Possible
If you’re the type of advisor who likes to host in-person client meetings daily, working remotely can feel especially awkward. Without the advantage of face-to-face communication, it’s important to make your connections with clients as “human” as possible. After all, people hire people, especially in your industry. So how do you do that during a pandemic?
Virtual meetings have become the classic go-to, and they can be a great tool for when you need to use visuals in a meeting with a client. Platforms like Zoom allow you to share your screen, so you can share some smiles while you walk through a presentation or portfolio with a client. Here are some pro-tips for virtual meetings:
- Make sure you don’t have anything open on your desktop you wouldn’t want a client to see (like another client’s information).
- Practice sharing your screen with an assistant or friend beforehand, so you don’t fumble the first time with a client.
- Get camera-ready—if you’re working from home, make sure your background isn’t too distracting, and dress appropriately. Your attire will depend on your clientele, and while you don’t necessarily need to suit-up for the kitchen table or home office, a logo shirt (from your firm, of course!) or a button-up gives a better impression than a sweatshirt.
Be Even More Personal Than Before
Whereas before you might have sent an email to communicate an announcement or update to clients, send something more personal to compensate for the overall lack of in-person connections. When a phone call isn’t appropriate or convenient, video is a fantastic way to personalize communication without impeding on a client’s schedule. Our team frequently uses Loom (which allows you to record yourself, your screen, or both simultaneously) to create videos for clients and fellow team members. Some things are easier to talk through (rather than write), and sharing your smile and voice provides a personal touch we’re all missing right now—not to mention, video solves that tricky issue of “tone” that emails can’t convey. Whatever methods you decide to try while working remotely, just check that they’re approved by your compliance department. Not all brokers allow the same video or communication platforms, so make sure you double-check before you convert all your emails to video messages.
If you hate being on camera, now is the time to overcome that fear! Your videos for individual clients don’t have to be extremely polished, and they shouldn’t be scripted (unlike evergreen content that will be viewed regularly on your website or social media). Approach video communication like you would a phone call or meeting—know what you want to say, but keep it conversational. Remember, many of your clients are working from home and adjusting to digital communication, too. They won’t fault you if your hair isn’t perfect or you say “uhm” once or twice.
Leverage the Right Tools
That said, you still want to make your digital communication as seamless, professional, and appealing as possible, and you can’t do that without the right equipment! These tools are well worth your investment to improve communication and visibility with clients in a time when we’re all craving human interaction. Below are some platforms and hardware we use to enhance our digital communication and present our best selves to clients.
- Video Messaging: Our team uses Loom, which allows you to record your screen, your voice, your face, or all of the above. It’s a great way to send quick updates or explain a more complicated concept with a more personal touch.
- Conference Calls: If you have a meeting with more than one person in multiple places, conference calls are an effective way to get everybody in the same “place” at the same time. We use the paid version of com, which allows you to record your meetings—this way, you don’t have to worry about forgetting something a client said.
- Webcam: There’s nothing more annoying than having a conversation with a face you can barely see! With more frequent video conferences, you’ll want a high-quality external camera that auto-focuses and better adjusts to light (rather than your built-in webcam). We recommend this HD webcam that clips to your monitor and allows you to adjust the camera angle. As a bonus, this webcam also has a built-in microphone.
- External Microphone: If you’d like even better sound quality for your videos, invest in an external microphone. This snowball microphone is small enough to leave on your desk and integrates with PCs or Macs.
- Lighting: If you’ve ever spent 15 minutes adjusting the lights in your home office trying to prevent yourself from looking like you’re in a cave or under a spotlight, you should invest in additional lighting for your videos. Most of us at LMG use this halo light to illuminate our faces for videos—all you have to do is place it behind your camera and turn it on. The improvement to your video quality is well worth the investment.
Revamp, Don’t Cancel
Between social distancing and quarantines, it’s likely you’ve had to cancel some of your “regularly scheduled” plans for the year. But when it comes to serving your clients, try to reshape events and meetings as much as possible, rather than outright canceling them. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it can be tempting to forgo the effort rather than get creative with an event or prospecting.
If you usually do an annual event for your A-list clients, consider sending a gift instead. For a lot of people, virtual meetings have started to lose their appeal, so rather than try to force a get-together, give your clients something they’ll truly appreciate. You’ll probably spend the same amount of money (or less), and you’ll be giving clients something they can actually enjoy. If you’re stuck for an idea, try sending a few of your favorite business or motivational books—they’ll be great topics of conversation, and they’re valuable gifts that clients with different tastes will enjoy.
If you were planning to host seminars to meet new prospects, try hosting a webinar instead. For your invite list, leverage existing relationships with organizations by asking them to invite members on your behalf—you’ll have a much better chance of gaining registrants with warm leads from current clients or partner advisors in your field (like lawyers or tax advisors you work with) than you will by inviting strangers. Make the webinar exciting and engaging by asking unique ice-breaker questions and using audience participation polls throughout your presentation.
Whatever you do to adjust your client communication, the important thing is this: don’t disappear. Do what you can to reach out to clients, make personal connections, and stay on their minds, whether that’s through your social media or a quarterly video newsletter. This list for amplifying your digital communication is far from exhaustive, so if you’d like more tips on improving your visibility with clients during a pandemic, feel free to reach out!