15 Business Strategies For Bridging Online And In-Person Experience Gaps

Expert Panel® Forbes Councils Member
Forbes Business Development Council
Feb 9, 2021

With businesses navigating closures and safe reopenings, this year has forced business leaders to get creative. For many, this has meant modifying in-person interactions to accommodate safety guidelines, or otherwise moving these meetings to a digital platform.

While certain aspects of in-person meetings cannot be replicated virtually, it is possible to bridge the gap between the digital and traditional realm. If you’re looking to make the most of your online or hybrid experience, try these 15 strategies from the members of Forbes Business Development Council.

1. Keep A Personal Touch

This is a very good example of how the best can be made out of any situation. Online connection and communication is mainstream now and has permeated into all levels of interactions in society, but the personal touch is still missing. The coffee table chats, the smoking chats and other connections are missing, which are important ways to network and connect. Meeting once in a while is still good. – Ashok BhatAcronotics

2. Prioritize Empathy

Show empathy towards your direct reports who may be at different levels of technological sophistication individually. Show empathy towards your clients who may be at different levels of comfort towards meeting in-person versus online. Show empathy towards your colleagues and support staff who may be more reluctant to commit their time to help people they have lost a personal connection with. – Nicholas ConstantinoDickey Broadcasting Company

3. Plan ‘Walk-And-Talk’ Sync Meetings

Business leaders need to stay engaged even when they can’t be physically present. In-person face time is invaluable, but it can be healthily bolstered in online environments. While video is essential for meetings, it can also be good to shift the medium from time to time and create “walk-and-talk” sync meetings where you take a voice call with someone while taking a quick walk outside. – Holger ReisingerJABRA GN AUDIO A/S

4. Build An Online Community Before The Event

One way to bridge the gap is to intentionally build a corresponding and robust online community before the in-person or online experience. Assign three to four team members to provide value and engage members daily. Highlight members, lead discussions and make the community a fun place to visit online daily. This can be done using a Facebook/LinkedIn page, event/company software or platforms like Slack. – Robin FarmanfarmaianActavalon

5. Define What Will And Will Not Be Done Remotely

With our industrial focus and presence in “essential” sectors, in-person interactions are still needed. However, remote meetings (always with video) have helped build trust so that some day-to-day “bread and butter” tasks can now be done remotely while other tasks and strategic planning might need socially distanced interactions. Clearly state what will not be done remotely and where remote will become the norm. – Guneet Bedirelayr

6. Check In With Your Team

Communication is king but Zoom fatigue is real. Every organization is different, so check in with your team. Use a quick three-question survey. How are they feeling about the work environment/culture? What are their challenges at this moment? What suggestions do they have for improvement or engagement? Then, most importantly, listen and act on these insights. When people feel heard, it is a win-win. – Melanie HicksInPursuit Research

7. Follow Your Audience

While the experiences between online and in-person experiences differ, you can bridge this gap by adapting your conversation to engage the audience. There are many good communication tactics and best practices, and productive meetings often need clear objectives and skilled management. But observing and listening to your audience will make the interaction more enjoyable. – Chor Meng TanWiley

8. Tailor Your Content To People’s Job Levels

Tailor your content to seniority levels as you would in person, C-level people want to network and learn from each other, managers and practitioners want relevant case studies and juniors want to learn. Make sure you have ice-breakers to help people feel invested. Have a mix of break out sessions to allow people to have more intimate conversations freely. – Harpreet BushellLAB Group

9. Experiment And Measure The Reaction

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this as each industry will require different solutions. The best idea is to experiment extensively and measure the reaction from your customers. A gym might try Zoom classes, holding gatherings in a public park or even private usage of the facility. Keep trying new ideas to see what connects. – Chris YountIndependent Board Advisor

10. Lean Into Digital Transformation

Digital transformation cannot be hidden away. Economies, businesses and people are craving digital solutions that provide convenience, memorable experiences and cost-effectiveness. Yet all firms can start somewhere. Create an app versus a fully online service or partner with other firms if you lack the capability. Humanize your service so you’re creating the best consumer experience. – Oluchi IkechiAccenture

11. Embrace ‘Phygital’ Experiences

The best way to bridge the gap is to reimagine the exclusive (online or in-person/physical) experiences and remapping the experience map/journey to embraces “Phygital” experiences, processes and data for the people. Every industry/business has different ways. For example, tech with both Zoom and walk meetings, alcohol distribution with online and store pickup, etc. – Bharath YadlaWorkato

12. Reimagine Social Events

Reimagining social events and emphasizing collaboration is crucial. Business leaders should set aside time for team members to work together and schedule regular meetings to allow employees to collaborate more effectively. Not all social activities will translate into a remote environment. Instead of forcing events that leave employees feeling drained, opt for activities that energize team members. – Vijay SundaramZoho Corporation

13. Maintain Internal And External Connections

We’re physically distanced but still have social connections; they’re just virtual now. Staying connected internally with employees or externally with clients and vendors is more important than ever for a productive corporate culture and positive relationships. Coordinating successful virtual meetings, lunches or events takes effort but effectively connecting with others makes it worthwhile. – Sue BhatiaRose International

14. Present A Polished Image

Make sure you look the part on camera. In-person, we are all judged in milliseconds based on the way we carry ourselves. Online, it gets more complicated because lighting and background influence our appearance. Make sure you convey the impression you want and don’t forget to ensure there’s a good audio connection. – Brandon RigoniLincoln Industries

15. Engage Your Customers Where They Are

The best way to bridge the gap between in-person and online customers is to engage your audience wherever they choose to shop. Invest in an omnichannel brand experience that makes it quick and easy to connect customers to the things they want, whether it’s in-store or online. Find out what channels and social platforms they shop on and engage them there instead of waiting for them to come to you! – Alexander DivinskyRMG Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Wondering where to start?