Breaking the Ice with Virtual Design Batch-mates/Colleagues
Updated: Jan 4
Let’s just say that we were social animals back then as opposed to what we are today - shy, a lot quieter and not to mention, trying very hard to break the ice with virtual design batch mates or colleagues. We can’t blame you. Virtual socializing is tough! From trying to initiate a meaningful conversation to wishing you could go back to offline studying or working when making connections was a lot simpler. But well, here we are, whether we like it or not and it is only wise to make the most out of these digital times and take advantage of all the virtual resources. We’re saying this knowing the industry you’re a part of and its ever-changing nature. There’s barely any constant in fashion. Except for, well, you and your skills. But, given this unpredictable nature of the fashion world, we all know how important the role of a network is here. Knowing the right people, building meaningful and long-term connections, and setting up your presence amongst them all, is what sets the foundation for a future-proof career in fashion. So, whether you have the offline ground for your networking skills and opportunities or not, we say, just shake things around a little and make full use of the virtual boons too. One way or another, all you have is right now. Having said that, here are some tips to get over your hesitancy and hit the ground running to make connections as a fashion student or a professional.
Have Off-Hour Sessions
Whether it’s a fashion design school or any other academic course that you have signed up for during
an unprecedented time like Covid-19, we understand how tough it is. Coping up with the new normal and being hands-on with the curriculum or work, with zero or no human contact is difficult. Oh, and the fact that you need to get to know and bond with your virtual design batchmates as a part of the networking process, makes it even more exasperating. Communication and fellowship can prove to be tricky at a time like this, especially when we all are riding on a virtual train for over a year now. Some of us, especially introverts, end up not trying at all. But, connections are important for all, right?
Source: pexels.com For situations like these, in order to break the ice, the first and the most important step here is to take the initiative. Having the motivation to take that very initiative is also necessary. It doesn’t have to be grand and bold. It can be something as simple as making the effort to get to know them better and carry on conversations accordingly. Say, you can request your fellow batchmates to wait back after the lecture and help the entire batch to get to know each other. You can take charge since it’s your initiative and introduce yourself to the batch.
Slowly and steadily, after getting to know them better, you can always have off-hour sessions for discussions, doubts and productive debates as well. Another baby step for our fellow shy ones? Simply start with a hi and reach out for a doubt clarification or a collaboration, and take it from there, step by step. Ensure that you make every effort worth it and have the best time in such off-hour sessions. Keep it candid and casual, and watch the ice break gradually.
Have Weekend Bonding Activities
Once you get to know your batchmates through these off-hour sessions, it’s time to take things up by a notch. With that said, we all know how weekends have become boring and lousy, thanks to the dystopian-like times we’re living in. But, does that mean all our paths are closed? Definitely no! So, it’s only wise to make the most out of this situation. How about a fun weekend with your batchmates?
One of the best ways to kickstart a weekend is to have a virtual party with your batchmates. You can order in and play spontaneous, fun and interactive games to get the grove and then build on. Making memories and having the best time virtually may seem weird or awkward initially, as some people take more time to open up than others. But hey, it’s a good start in any case. Something better than nothing, right? Interactive virtual games can be followed by movie nights on Netflix.
Some of the games that you can try on Zoom are Lightning Scavenger Hunts, Zoom Conference Call Bingo, Zoom Trivia, Blackout Truth or Dare and so on. Your zoom get-togethers shouldn’t be limited to games and movie nights. Even birthdays and milestones can be celebrated together, issuing memories of a lifetime. And not to forget, these friendships can take you a long way in your career. Don’t Just Discuss Work
One golden rule about bonding is to not talk about work or anything related to your academic course. You see, when you get together with your batchmates, you don’t always want to talk about your lectures, right? The topics of discussion during such meetings can be countless. It can be about the newest trends, new launches from the world of fashion, innovation or even personal talks.
Depending on how comfortable your batchmates are with you and vice versa, you can accordingly strike different conversations. In fact, when you meet, greet and bond, don’t just discuss work, discuss anything but work. You can keep your work conversations on the back burner, we insist. Some of the ice breaker conversations in this case could be asking them about their weekend plans, their interests, their hobby, their experience in the field, their inspiration, their end goals and so on.
Get to Really Know Them
Taking the initiative not once but many times is applaud worthy for those of you who are trying hard to interact and bond with your virtual batchmates. The underlying aim here is to actually get to know them better. You will make real friends and have lifelong friendships if only you actually get to know them. Some get to know tactics to actually know and understand people better are:
● Be honest and stay present while getting to know the person ● Come up with easy ice breaker questions ● Listen actively and intently; show some curiosity ● Articulate your answers well as they may have questions to ask too ● Be open-minded and as welcoming as possible So, there’s your practical guide to making friends and networking with the people you study with or work with! Ready to put them to the test?