Tag: virtual meetings

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The Benefits of a Local Networking Group


If there’s one lesson we’ve learned over these last three months, it’s that social connection plays a fundamental role in many people’s happiness and success—both personally and professionally. Because of wide-spread shelter-in-place orders, many social outlets and activities have been suspended, and for many, that means isolation from their professional communities as well.

From loss of communication with colleagues, to missing opportunities to grow and connect with a customer base, to missing out on professional development seminars and beyond, the effects of social distancing extend to every corner of the business world and are leaving many professionals feeling defeated and uninspired.

How to Grow Professionally and Stay Connected

Luckily, technology provides a means of connection when we can’t be physically together—and that plays a key part in continuing professional development during these times.

Greta, a wonderful member of our sales team, recently shared how she’s staying connected and honing her skills by meeting virtually with her local Business Network International (BNI) group.

Using BNI Groups to Grow Professionally

Every Thursday, Greta meets with her group (now via Zoom), which is made up of professionals from various industries including mortgage companies, financial institutions, car maintenance, heating and air conditioning, and more.

During each meeting, all members get a chance to pitch new products and services their company is offering, ask for referrals, and potentially sell to other professionals within the BNI group, all in hopes of making new connections and bringing in new business.

Making Connections and Getting New Business
Greta Presenting at BNI

When asked if these meetings open new doors, Greta said, “I didn’t get business at first—people need to gain your trust and get to know you because they’ll be referring their friends to you. But over time, I’ve definitely gained business. I have people ordering from the group, and they’ve referred me to their friends. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Aside from honing her public speaking skills and perfecting her elevator pitch, Greta mentioned that meeting with her BNI group has also helped her deal more frankly with her customers and provide more valuable service to them.

Providing More Value to Customers

When reflecting on how she’s grown as a salesperson since joining her BNI group, Greta said, “Things happen with orders—we have to get on the phone and help our regular online customers. But with my BNI group, if something goes wrong or they have questions, I’m going to actually see them face-to-face.”

Sometimes, technology creates a barrier that subconsciously minimizes the positive effects of customer service interactions—but Greta says that connecting with her BNI group customers in person helps her see her customers, especially her digital ones, in a new light.

She notes that she’s learned to approach service situations from a more human, empathic standpoint—whether virtual or in person. Not only does this make her a more skillful salesperson, but it increases customer retention too.

Identifying Market Needs

BNI groups are made up of professionals from industries across the board, and Greta noted that consistently communicating with people in different industries is incredibly valuable for her as a salesperson.

These interactions have trained her to identify the common needs and interests that ePromos can fulfill for other companies and professionals. And perhaps most importantly, Greta notes that she’s more confident in her abilities as a salesperson—she uses the insight she’s gained from these industry connections to create razor-sharp sales pitches that are more targeted and effective. In other words, her professional growth is benefitting everybody in the business.

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4 Creative Ways to Keep Employees Engaged During Virtual Meetings


Let’s face it, work looks A LOT different than it did a few months ago. Between the remote offices and the social distancing and the endless virtual meetings and Zoom conferences, “going to work” isn’t the same—and, likely, won’t be for a very long time.

Now more than ever that sacred work-life balance is out the window—for better or for worse. While many enjoy the comfort, convenience and, yes, elevated productivity levels that come from working at home, there’s still a serious stress factor. Think about it—your employees and clients are likely teaching fifth-grade math, whipping up lunches, and working non-stop from a makeshift office in the middle of their living room. Convenient? Sure. One-way path to Burnout Central? Also, YES.

This can certainly be a challenge, especially when you’ve got a mission-critical virtual meeting on the books. So, what to do? Keep employees, clients, vendors, and partners engaged and upbeat with these creative solutions.

#1. Send a “Swag Box” Ahead of Time

Employers are hyping up their employees for meetings by sending “Swag Boxes” ahead of time. These goodie boxes are packed full of items employees can use during and after the meeting—anything from notebooks to drink tumblers to phone chargers, and beyond.

Try assembling your own version of a “Swag Box” and sending them off to your employees to get them excited about virtual meetings. Not only will it boost their spirits, but it will encourage interaction and conversation between everyone as they share what’s in their box (but be sure to allocate a specific amount of time for this in your agenda—more on that later).

Chelsea, sporting her North-Face branded jacket in a virtual meeting

Need some ideas? Try tossing in a customizable tumbler cup for your employees to enjoy their favorite beverage poolside at the end of a long workday, or a stylish baseball hat they can bring along on their weekend trips to the lake. Apparel is always a hit and can be worn during the meeting (just be sure to get the sizing right)!

Notebooks are also a wonderful option—they’ll encourage employees to take notes during the meeting and write down any questions they have. . If the virtual meeting is scheduled during morning hours, your employees would definitely appreciate a coffee mug to wake up with.

Don’t forget to customize each of these items with your company’s logo—it’ll give your employees a sense of camaraderie and shed a positive light around attending the virtual meetings. Because who doesn’t like gifts? Especially when it’s not yet the holiday season!

Browse our Top 100 list to discover more products you can add to your “Swag Boxes!”

#2. Turn it into a Happy Hour

If there’s one tried-and-true way to get your employees excited about a virtual meeting, it’s by turning it into a happy hour. What’s better than throwing together an ice-cold cocktail and enjoying it with your colleagues (while ALSO getting some work done)? Talk about encouraging a work/life balance…

Encourage your employees to mix up their favorite drink and tune-in—it’ll make the obligation feel less like work and encourage them to have some fun if they’ve had a stressful day.

If you’re sending out goodie boxes, include some happy-hour essentials such as wine tumblers, drink Koozies®, beverage cubes, reusable straws, and more. You could also get super fancy and send them a drinkware gift set, too.

#3. Create an Agenda Beforehand

When planning a virtual meeting (especially if it’s a happy hour meeting), be sure to organize and publish a meeting agenda beforehand—it’ll help you stay on-track and be productive in case you start having too much fun and drift off-topic.

Share the agenda at least two days beforehand so all participants have ample time to prepare for the discussion and write down their questions and concerns. Giving employees time to prepare will contribute greatly to the fluidity and effectiveness of the meeting.

When creating the agenda, be sure to include these key aspects for each topic you’ll touch on:

  • How much time you’ll spend on this topic (allocate about 20% more time than you think is necessary for each topic—this will ensure you aren’t rushed through the agenda)
  • Why this topic needs to be discussed
  • What will be accomplished when discussing this topic
  • What you need from participants for each section (suggestions, possible solutions, etc.)
#4. Encourage Participants to Stay off Their Phones

Perhaps the hardest—and most awkward—part of staying on task during virtual meetings is reminding your employees to stay focused and off their phones.

Working from home doubles the possibility of personal life interruptions and being in their own homes might make employees feel more comfortable breaking the rules.

A creative way to encourage participants to keep their phones out of sight is by supplying them with their own wireless charger—it’ll encourage them to use the time to re-charge their phone, rather than use it, for the duration of the meeting. Looking to really wow them? Combine the charger with a phone sanitizer (these are hot in 2020) – it’s a win-win.

You could even allocate a specific time for this in your agenda—send them the charger a few days before, and when it’s time to tune-in, tell participants to fire-up those chargers and set their phones aside.

We’re full of ideas over here at ePromos, so give us a call to strategize about your next virtual meeting together.