Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
With the pandemic still ongoing, it’s difficult to know when the world will return to “normal” and in-person networking can resume. Until then, many professionals will remain working — and connecting — fully remotely, which can lead to the dreaded burnout known as “Zoom fatigue.”
In this distant environment, finding the motivation to forge connections day after day can be a monumental task. To help, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council members shared a few networking strategies that have worked well for them when they’re not in the mood to connect.
Nothing helps to reset your mood more than seeing one of your colleagues hold up their beloved pet who seemingly has no worries about Covid, work or anything else stress-related. If someone in the team doesn’t have a pet, then it’s a welcoming distraction; and if more than one person does, then there is always an instant connection to be made, sharing stories of mischief and humor. – Matthew Woods, AFK Creators
Utilize Voice-Only Communication
Try to utilize voice-only communications more frequently. Phone calls allow for personal connection but don’t have the added stress and pressure of people having video access into your home. Participants don’t have to worry about what they’re wearing or their sitting posture. If there are no slide decks or documents to be shared, the old-fashioned phone call can do the job with less stress. – Markus Karr, Manhattan Center
Host ‘Get-To-Know-Me’ Zoom Calls
I generally set up my first Zoom with someone as a “get-to-know” type thing. I think we’re all struggling to keep industry-specific connections — and to make new ones — but if you start by getting to know someone on a more personal level, I think that goes a long way and, sometimes, naturally leads to business down the line. – Elise Anderson, Elicity Public Relations
I’ll start a personal chat with someone on Zoom if they say something interesting or comment on me, and then exchange contact info. I always suggest a phone conversation to break up the Zoom monotony as it is also a way to relax since we’re not on camera. It works more often than not. – Stu Zakim, Bridge Strategic Communications LLC
Host Virtual Events
Leaning into people’s “home lives” has allowed us to forge deeper connections during quarantine. Like the potlucks we used to have in the office pre-Covid, now every few weeks we have a team member lead a virtual “cooking class,” showing their colleagues how to make their favorite family dishes. Virtual Game Nights have also been a nice break from the monotony, fostering deeper connection and joy. – Harrison Wise, Wise Collective Inc.
Ask New Questions
One thing that my team and I have implemented is choosing a question that each of us can answer in the first five minutes of our Zoom meeting. It gives us a chance to start the discussion off by learning something personal about each other and not just diving right into the meeting. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery
Embrace Your ‘Why’
Start with “why” and remind yourself of the reason you are doing this. Growing your network and connecting (in a meaningful way) with new people is actually joyous and can lead to huge opportunities for both of you. You never know where a relationship might take you, and that’s what makes each person you meet the start of an exciting new chapter. – Paul Blanchard, Right Angles
See the Opportunity
I see it differently. Zoom fatigue is no different than in-person fatigue. The grass is always greener. I look at every Zoom call as a positive opportunity to make a connection with another human (who is likely feeling identical pressures and challenges given the global situation). Decide before the call that connection breeds opportunity and try to bring a smile to someone else’s face. – Shara Senderoff, Raised In Space
Walk and Talk
Focus on Others
Look for those who need the connection more urgently than your desire to not connect in the moment. Look outside yourself and recognize that someone out there is struggling with the same thing, or many things, and they need your help. By focusing on others, you’ll get past your reticence, and after helping you’ll feel great. It’s a win-win. – John Tabis, The Bouqs Company
I’ve found some relief from “Zoom fatigue” by migrating some of my conversations and meetups to Clubhouse. The app’s audio-only platform allows you to start a scheduled or spur-of-the-moment chat with other members or pop into an existing conversation that interests you. It’s refreshing to just talk and listen without worrying about putting on lipstick!” – Lisa Weser, Trailblaze
Block Out Time for Calls
I’m always interested in connecting with talented people who are looking to innovate in music tech, but an ever-growing to-do list can make it difficult to make the time. I’ve found that having limited, dedicated Calendly slots at specific times in the week help organize and timebox those activities while not creating too much time pressure. – Alexander Mitchell, Boomy Corporation