Virtual Workspace Presents New Challenges

By Rebekah Morris for AZBEX 
Transferring business development and interview skills from predominantly face-to-face to entirely virtual has presented the market with new challenges. At the Virtual Leading Market Series on May 13th, 2020Rebekah Morris, Founder and President of BEX discussed the topic with a panel of industry leaders to see how they are handling this very abrupt and impactful switch. Panelists included Russ Sanders, Principal, SmithGroupWendy Springborn, Engineering Services Manager for the City of Tempe, and Hilari Weinstein, President of High Impact Communications. 
Logistics and Basic Delivery of a Virtual Interview 
From the various platforms available, to the lighting, audio quality and the inevitable glitches with technology, the most important piece of advice from the panel was to practice. Sanders and Weinstein honed in on practicing with the exact platform the interview will be delivered in. They suggested everything from additional lighting directed at the participants face, recording and playing back the video so you can see what adjustments to make, and ensuring that the visible background is not distracting.  
Consensus was a virtual background is not the best for an interview, but maybe better saved for virtual happy hours instead. Slides, if sent ahead of time, can add value to the interview process, but the panel agreed that slides can be distracting, and the point of the interview really is to showcase the people, not the graphics. 
How to Convey Theme through a Screen 
Springborn described the public owner’s perspective in the interview process as wanting to get to see the faces, get to know who we’ll be working with.” Sanders chimed in that the interview was really to say, would you like to work with us for the next couple years on this project? Weinstein added that it is very different delivering through a screen what would normally be an inperson interaction. All panelists touched back on the topic of preparation as key in delivering a smooth virtual interview. Knowing who will be saying what in a logical order minimizes the chances for interruptions and getting sidetracked.  
Business Development Practices in a Virtual World 
Weinstein says she is encouraging face-to-face interaction, even using a screen as the best way to continue on with business development. She noted that tone is easily lost in email and text, and even through the phone the interactions are shorter. If possible, she recommends always striving for a virtual meeting using the video component.  
Springborn also conveyed that she is happy to perform debrief meetings via video meetings but might have to delay some of those if certain files she needs to complete the task are not available. She also noted that she is happy to learn about new solutions firms are working on that might be of benefit to a future project. 
The next BEX Virtual Leading Market Series topic will be announced shortly; stay tuned! 

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