Switzerland Global Enterprise invited Petra Wolkenstein over to use her track-record in online sales and training to discuss with Swiss startups their next challenge: Participating in the BioTech online conference in the US with a serial match-making for sales and distribution over weeks. “We had some vivid discussions on this topic: we collected the benefits but we also discussed the difficulties that threaten this kind of serial meetings. Of course, in the end, we worked out together how to avoid them and make the best of the opportunity.”
There are some important benefits of virtual match-making conferences:
- You get access to a robust company directory.
- You have the flexibility to plan independently and use your own virtual conference room.
- 24-hour meeting periods are available for maximum flexibility across time zones.
- 150 outstanding outbound meeting requests are included, e.g., at this particular conference.
6 challenges of online serial matchmaking meetings dissected
#1 Tech overwhelm
In the online space, a lot of technical equipment and preparations are required. Your appearance on the screen has an immediate message value. Therefore the location of the light source and the right angle from which the camera captures the face are very important. Many people do not pay enough attention to the sound quality. No matter how good the picture is if the sound doesn’t work, if the words are not understood, the main meaning is lost.
Main rules & keywords:
- Have no outside light behind you (e.g. windows), also no blinds.
- The light should be at eye level to avoid deep shadows.
It is recommended to use 3 natural soft light sources: two behind your webcam (one on the left, one on the right) and one on the right behind you.
Find the best setting!
- look people in the eye (lift your laptop or use a separate camera)
- you might use a laptop stand
- it also works to mount your laptop on books
- additional mouse and keyboard help a lot
Have you ever heard of the sound etiquette?
- use headphones instead of the internal built-in speakers – you might start shouting
- avoid problems with the feedback effect
- mute when several people are in the conversation (”unmute” is the new reply to all)
- minimize echo in your room (rugs & cushions can help)
Make sure you can share … but not with everybody!
Unfortunately, online systems can also open the way for unauthorized intruders. We must be very careful about what we share and with whom.
The most important points you should be aware of:
- Password protection
- No recording
- Screen Share (prepared)
- Link Share (downloads, contact details, website prepared) – Chat
- Annotation (whiteboard / in presentation)
- Quicktime screen recording / iPad
- Zoom built-in or over the air sharing
- Less tech is more
Save your energy – save your tech resources
Close competing applications, especially the ones that
- suck battery or processing power (backup, time-machine)
- can interfere (apple facetime, reminders …..)
- use a lot of bandwidth
It is always a good idea to test WIFI with speedtest.net (1.2 Mbps Zoom up to 8 Mbps), stop Google Hangout and, if possible, restrict other video calls from other people on your network at the same time.
Due to the lack of office atmosphere, many factors can disturb and quickly distract the meeting. How can you still be completely professional?
Look behind you!
Also your background, your environment can deflect the attention of your partner. It must be clean, professional, without personal or striking details of an apartment or office. Also, avoid doors in the background for accidental emergency entry. Try to keep your background as clear and monochrome as possible: beautiful plants, books, or a piece of great art are all fine.
Virtual backgrounds of some platforms are also very popular today, e.g. at Zoom, you can add the logo and brand color to the background – something to remember.
Look at yourself!
Avoid reflective jewelry and too low V-neck or strapless clothing can also be a cause for concern. Your movement should remain calm and businesslike, so it is better not to sit in a chair with wheels.
#3 Message delivery and fighting ZOOM fatigue
Many open online interfaces clearly overtax you. Since frustration and lethargy can arise, you have to communicate differently on these platforms than personally. A good way to keep your partners’ attention and avoid the flood of information is to have a regular summary. Summarize your message over and over again with your images and keywords!
#4 Remember me
How to stand out from the crowd? A striking slogan, a well-chosen style, an eye-catching, creative image, or a coherent brand color always helps us to remain in the memory of the negotiating partner.
#5 Effectivity of your online Meetings
Apart from “cosmetics”, it is important to get out of your meetings what you wanted. And this should be also clear from the beginning to the other side. Good housekeeping starts with good meeting management.
Clear expectation management
Your bio in the Matching-App is part of the story. It is the start of getting into a good meeting and sets the expectation. Topics that should be clearly included are:
- Your product & USP
- Track Record, social proof
- Exactly what you are looking for
- What you can offer
Agenda Setting at the beginning of your meeting summarizing how much time you have, why you are interested, and what should be the outcome at the end, is always good to do.
A Cheat Sheet of your desired outcome is something that you might want to keep at your desk before doing your serial meetings. It would cover:
- Criteria to test during different conversations with potential business partners, e.g. business model, track record
- your individual Partnering Score to evaluate who fits best
End of meeting preparations – how to wrap up
Remember that an important part of the meeting is the end of the meeting. Keep all relevant links and contact information in a word document, prepared to be copied into the chat. Clarify and repeat what the next steps are and on which communication channel.
#6 Being human & relationship building
Since it is more difficult to establish a real personal connection online, we need to pay more attention to communication. What are the tricks that create a pleasant atmosphere?
- Create a relaxed atmosphere with small talk.
- If it fits, tell a great story that fits the situation
- Build rapport, i.e. non-verbal communication and attitude while talking to the other person
- Call them by their name: “So, Petra, ….”
- Look into their eyes 🙂
Relationship matters – online even more!
Switzerland Global Enterprise has made this workshop possible for its startups so that they prepare best for their new online partnering challenges. Thank you Philip Morger and S-GE for the invitation and wishing most suitable cooperation partners for the US expansion to all the participants!