The coronavirus pandemic continues to transform the way people live and work, including the way professionals build relationships with their colleagues in a virtual setting.

With a proprietary relationship-building technique called the 5-Star Approach, Tyler Small shows that creating meaningful relationships online is possible — and even easy.

He posits that people who want to build relationships with their coworkers must invent new ways of meeting or running into people. Unlike real life, where you can organically strike up a conversation with others at the printer or water cooler, virtual workplaces don’t have these meetup spots.

Small suggests three ways to connect with virtual coworkers:

  • Once they go on a break, ask a colleague if they have a minute to chat
  • Before a meeting starts, see if a coworker would be interested in a one-on-one call if time permits after the meeting
  • Create a schedule to catch up with certain people during the week

He also mentioned that the best way to meet with someone virtually is through a face-to-face conversation where you can see each other on the screen, as this is the most similar to conversations you’d have in real life. In fact, Small noticed a huge difference in the cultures of companies that work mostly face-to-face and those that work mostly over the phone.

When it comes to improving on your current relationships, Small encourages seeking feedback from the people you interact with. Ask them, “From 1-5, how would you rate our relationship? What can I do to make it better?”

Questions like these give you a baseline to work with, and shows you the direction you need to take moving forward. Once you begin the 5-Star Approach with someone, they will begin to reciprocate your efforts — a phenomenon called the law of reciprocation.

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