Inspired by Erica Dhawan’s recent book, Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance, our director of intern and graduate recruitment, Anoushka Dossa, put together her key tips on how to communicate politely online with potential employers. Be it over email or zoom, read below for how to present your best ‘digital’ self…
What is “Digital Body Language?”
When communicating online, it can be easy to forget that our non-verbal cues – like tone of voice during video calls, or punctuation use in emails – are huge indicators of how we feel. In other words, our digital body language is really important when liaising with colleagues, professionals, and even just strangers online.
Think about the way you’d present yourself in an interview, for example. You’d show that you’re listening to the interviewer by nodding, smiling, and even using words of agreement – otherwise known as active listening.
Or, consider emailing a professional about a potential job role. Would you set the tone with some kind words, or jump straight into your query? And would you use exclamation marks to convey enthusiasm, or just stick with common full stops?
These are all factors to be considered, now more than ever since shifting into hybrid and remote working. So, here are some tips for both candidates and employers on ways to demonstrate good digital body language!
Use of Punctuation in Emails
Although it might seem like a trivial and straightforward part of emailing, paying close attention to the punctuation you’re using can make a huge difference, as it’s a strong indicator of our digital body language. Consider switching some full stops for exclamation marks to convey excitement and enthusiasm, or just taking the time to wish your recipient well in the email! Emojis are a grey area: they can be great for adding some personality to your emails, but don’t overdo it – and avoid using them when emailing about a more serious subject, as you don’t want to appear insensitive.
Email Response Time
One of the most common rules of thumb is to reply as promptly as possible to whoever you’re liaising with over email. Your response time is, in fact, another indicator of your digital body language; the quicker you respond, the more enthusiastic you seem. If you can’t respond quickly, ensuring that you write a brief line acknowledging the delayed response is often welcome! Online our gratitude is often less apparent, or may not be expressed at all. Sending a follow-up email after a virtual meeting can make it clear that you valued someone’s input and how much you value their time.
Conducting Yourself over Zoom Calls
It needn’t be all Zoom Doom! Over the past couple of years, we’ve all accustomed ourselves to online meetings; it goes without saying that there are significant differences between communicating over a video screen and chatting in real life. It’s important to make sure you stay engaged throughout the call, avoiding checking emails or anything else that might pop up on your screen. Be sure to consider the slight lag with all Zoom calls, and allow the other person to finish speaking before talking yourself.
Virtual Networking on LinkedIn
Similar to when emailing, it’s important to take note of the phrasing you use in messages when reaching out to professionals on sites like LinkedIn. Networking websites can feel slightly less formal than emails, so it’s typically more conventional to message in a “relaxed” tone. While maintaining a level of professionalism, you’ll come across more friendly and enthusiastic by simply taking the time to ask your recipient how they’re doing, i.e. “I hope you’re well” or extending the conversation beyond the work-related subject, i.e. “Have a good weekend!”
It may be helpful to take time out to observe your virtual self digitally. It can improve your relationships with others!