Building Human Connections in a Virtual World

Kapila Agrawal

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women virtually, the largest women’s gathering in the country, whose focus is on inspiration and empowerment, included speakers from across different industries discussing various topics.  It made me consider whether 2021, a year shaped by the global pandemic, was a year of true human connection. After all, technology has enabled many to continue working during a global pandemic, to study, and to be entertained. At the MA Conference for Women, Triverus colleagues were able to meet with peers and grow our professional networks, all from the comfort of our living rooms.  If normal is a thing, this is our new normal.

Several of the sessions at the conference addressed how we can make connections in a virtual environment including making  trust a priority, open communication and connecting off-line.

Make trust a priority - Trust is an outcome! People trust when they think they know you or find you relatable. Especially while everyone is remote, we have all adopted more phone calls, or video chats to continue the engagement. In a work setting, people will feel engaged if they are involved from the beginning. And collaboration is an integral part of getting the best ideas implemented.  

However, based on where one falls on the Myers Briggs test, making new connections can be either a daunting task or a cake walk. Even for extreme introverts there are three great strategies for being a serial connector:

  1. Meet at least three people during the course of a week, month or even a year
  2. Ask questions to learn at least three things about the person you are meeting
  3. Share something about yourself with the new connections

Create open communication - Being self-aware has always been the starting point, but if we don’t exchange any feedback with a fellow human are we able to even experience pain and joy? After all, happiness is real when it's shared! We have created so many barriers to political correctness to the point that diverse opinions get blurred. If we can focus back on our common aspects of being human and how we are connected we will be able to build trust circles where an opinion to share is viewed as constructive and not merely feedback that maybe considered sensitive.

Continue to connect offline – Even with the plethora of social media and technology solutions, we still relate better with those who we meet in person. Not everyone is online, and we only may see a part of people’s journey as a result.

Technology has made it easier to keep in touch with those near and far, but are we investing enough beyond a quick social media chat or text to build our human support system? For me I am trying to graduate from just the weather conversations. Sometimes it makes us vulnerable sharing our day or opinion, however, I think this is what establishes the trust-building process.

The timing of the Massachusetts Conference for Women always takes place at the end of the calendar year, which is great timing. It is an opportunity to adjust our sails moving as we start the new year, to use technology as an enabler to connect with peers or with friends and family. As we build back from the pandemic, we may want to slowly, surely and safely, resume reconnecting with colleagues, friends and family in person - and it just may be a lasting connection.