Bates: Zoom Zoom into businesses' new reality

Kay Rial Bates
Kay Rial Bates

Companies of all shapes and sizes have had to change significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in the arena of masks, gloves, disinfectants, closed doors and, most importantly, virtual connecting.

When we first started Zooming or virtually connecting, most of us looked like we had just staggered out of bed. You know the look: old high school sweatshirt, hair uncombed covered by a red, white and blue Cubs cap.

Later, we became a bit more sophisticated. Half of the people were pictured in business attire, with a professional look, while 25% of attendees wore logos covered by fixed smiling faces and another 25% showed up with their names in a little black box all crowded in a row on the last page.

As we adapted, we learned a few things, such as the ability to tune in and tune out of meetings with no one knowing our muted, videoless existence is gone. This practice has a positive to it. It is really effective for really long meetings where a bathroom trip is a necessity.

There are a couple of other cool things to do while Zooming. You can raise your hand electronically to be called on. Realistically, however, do not expect the host to call on you.

They rarely notice. Private chats can be fun, too, especially if you do not agree with the speaker. You and a buddy can pointedly comment.

What you really want, though, is the host job. You have the power of mute. Often, the muted victims will never know, and they keep talking at the computer. Been there, done that.

From my extensive experience with Zooming incorrectly, I have come up with a bit of Zoom etiquette that I would like to share with you.

• Treat every Zoom call as a business meeting. Gals, comb your hair, and guys, shave or trim. Dress as you would in any meeting with a potential client. We are not on vacation.

• In group meetings, don’t be viewed walking around the room or eating. Remember, if you would not do it in an in-person meeting, then you should not do it while Zooming.

• Be on time. If the meeting starts at 8 a.m., sign in at 7:55 a.m.

• Use your video. Nothing is worse than looking at someone’s black box with their name.

• It’s better to use a phone. Did you notice that Zoom puts black boxes on the back page in larger meetings? You lose an advantage with the black box. The purpose of Zooming is so people can interact physically with you, not the alphabet.

• Make certain your Wi-Fi connection is good. If it is not, Zoom is not a product you want to use in order to impress a potential client.

• Clean up your background. Create a friendly, welcoming background that represents you best. It could be in your home at your dining room table with a neutral picture behind you. 

Zooming is here to stay, people. So it is important to professionalize your image for virtual meetings. It’s not my favorite way of operating, but now that we all have tasted the ease of virtual working, I suspect our typical way of doing meetings will adapt to Zooming.  

The McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce is working with city of McHenry staff to Relaunch McHenry in Phase 3. To celebrate, we will be using social media, ribbons on lamp posts, signs throughout the city and prizes for shoppers and diners.

Have you ever been to a Scramble? Try one virtually June 11. This is a great way to market your business with three different networking sessions.

The cost includes networking and a $15 gift card to the Chamber member restaurant of your choice. Only two registrations per organization can register. There is a limit of five registrations per industry (handed out on a first-come, first-served basis).

All registrants will receive an emailed list of attendees to make it easy to follow up.

The Gary Lang Auto Group Mixer is scheduled for Sept. 15.  

• Kay Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.

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