I was recently quoted in an online Forbes article written by Steve Cooper, a Forbes writer and also the co-founder and editor of Hitched, an online lifestyle magazine for married couples. If you read the article, Master Your Virtual Workforce With These 6 Tips, you will note that we have been colleagues for years and through the beauty of technology, I have had the good fortune to be a source for Hitched on etiquette related topics, as well as work with Steve on multiple podcasts. Over the years I have developed a true respect and friendship with Steve, and even had the pleasure of connecting “virtually” with his lovely wife, Jessica. Steve’s tireless love for his business, strong work ethic and never-ending flow of creative ideas make him a joy to work with. Hitched is the ultimate resource for marriage and Forbes is a leader in business, so it seems Steve has a perfect “marriage” of both worlds.
In his recent article, he asked my opinion of how to succeed in a virtual workforce. If you’re a part of a virtual workforce, or considering a virtual connection, Steve’s article is very helpful (and you can read the entire article here). I’m also adding a few additional pointers below.
- Schedule Skype or GoToMeeting calls to stay connected and strengthen professional rapport. You will learn more about one another and often achieve better results in less time than it would take to email back and forth (and back and forth) on a particular issue.
- Consider Instant Messaging. If you will be working simultaneously on a project, communication by instant message may be a faster and easier option. Not sold on the art of the IM? Take a look at a few of my etiquette tips in this CBS Moneywatch article, 7 Tips for IM’ing in the Office.
- Reduce email clutter with shared collaboration tools. SharePoint is only one example of a program that allows you to share documents with distant teammates, and also includes designated areas for online discussion of specific projects. Google Docs offers shared online documents and spreadsheets with various roles for viewing and editing.
- Don’t overlook opportunities to meet in person. Although it doesn’t always make sense to travel across the country to meet one another on the company expense account, when possible, seize the opportunity. For example, I was on a business trip in California recently and had the good fortune to meet Steve in person for breakfast. What a treat!
Finally, my long time, trusted and all-knowing online marketing expert, Laura Otero, takes a huge load off of my overly scheduled plate by handling all of my “back end” technology, assisting me as a second (or third) set of eyes on my blog edits, and is always accessible by email or text when I need her (and there have been some very inconvenient times when we were both out of our perspective offices, working from hotel rooms in different cities from where we both live, and we were only connected by technology). What a blessing she is. And, like Steve, Laura has become a very good friend. I originally met Laura in person at a tweetup in Charleston, SC several years before we actually started working together.
Virtual connections can prove to be invaluable. I highly recommend you give it a try!