How To Build Effective Work Relationships In A Virtual World

Would you benefit from improved effective work relationships at work? 

I know I would! 

You might feel you are not at work to make friends, but building lasting positive relationships with your work colleagues, partners, clients, and stakeholders can make the work experience more enjoyable and leave you more successful at what you do. The Harvard Study of Adult Development research shows clearly that close relationships, more than any other factor, are what keep people fulfilled throughout their lives. The skill that will have the most impact on your success is the ability to build lasting positive relationships – personally and professionally. This skill correlates directly to the revenues you generate and the heights you reach in life.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve come out of the pandemic feeling like my social skills have become a bit rusty. Truth be told, I might have developed a bit of social anxiety along the way. Over the years, I have developed and honed my social and relationship-building skills as the realisation dawned that I will only be as great as the people within my network. 

This realisation and the resulting investment in time and effort took me from being an awkward, shy person into one who has built an extensive global network. 

It is clearly easier to build relationships offline – the rules are generally understood, be nice and sociable, learn to make small talk, join others for lunch, and participate in team activities at work. Building relationships in a virtual world is an entirely different ball game. Some things are a lot easier, and others pose more barriers. It is easy to show up virtually and still be “hiding” in plain sight doing very little to connect with people in a meaningful way. When building relationships in a virtual setup, things can get a lot trickier but the future of work is going to have some virtual element of it going forward as we embrace hybrid working so we cannot get away from it.

The good news for all of us is that you don’t have to be brilliant at relationship building – we can’t all be social butterflies, but we can all be better than we currently are. So, what behaviours will significantly improve your relationship-building skills in this virtual world?

Here are a few strategies to get you started on connecting and rebuilding your network and trusted relationships.


  1. Change your mindset
    Relationships are vital for success at work. You need to dedicate time and prioritise them to make them work for you. Building relationships in the virtual world will not happen automatically. You need to be intentional in cultivating these relationships. When was the last time you organised 1-2-1 with the key influencer and people more likely to offer you professional opportunities?
  2. Collaborate and embrace teamwork
    Seek opportunities for collaboration even on remote projects. Get involved in activities and be seen as someone open to supporting others and sharing ideas. When did you last collaborate on a project for mutual benefit?
  3. Respect and value differences
    Through your actions, become known as someone who values the diversity of thought and experience and can get on with everyone irrespective of their background. How diverse is your network? Why not reach out outside your comfort zone and connect with people you would typically avoid?
  4. Create trust
    Trust is essential for building lasting relationships, especially in today’s world of fake news and leaders whose behaviours conflict with what they tell us to do. Nothing creates a better bonding experience than the ability to build trust. The research tells us that men trust more than women, and women are more trustworthy than men. As you may already be considered more trustworthy, how can you leverage this to create more trusting relationships with your colleagues.
  5. Be a learner and ask for feedback in this area
    Your ability to build relationships is directly related to your ability to improve and develop those habits that will endear you to people and not the habits that will alienate people.  When was the last time you asked for feedback in this area? Because you asked for feedback, you are more likely to listen. Ask people what you could do better in building relationships? Ask, “What could I have done in the meeting to build better relationships?”
  6. Communication skills
    Communicate powerfully. Take the time to learn how to communicate effectively in a virtual world. In the virtual world, words matter and how you deliver them counts. How you make people feel on the call is important. Incorporate non-work-related talk when communicating with people. Make time to get to know them and be 100% present when on calls. Listen attentively and avoid multi-tasking when on calls. Try to use the video more as they are the closest to face to face connections.
  7. Support and develop others
    Do you pay attention to helping, supporting, and developing others? What can you do to help others? Ask yourself, ‘Who needs my help and support right now? Who do I need to nurture stronger trusting relationships with?

    These seven skills will make you more effective at building relationships. You don’t have to be great at everything. You need to get better at the ones holding you back from achieving the success you deserve. 

Join us at our next members’ mentoring session on the 22nd of March at 1 PM GMT to connect with other members and be mentored by Gill Fielding.

WHO IS OUR MENTOR? – Gill Fielding

Gill Fielding is a self-made millionaire who is on a personal mission to educate the nation in managing and improving its financial position. She is a qualified chartered accountant, runs several businesses, and has held high-profile roles in the City. She is known for her appearance on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire when she gave away nearly £250,000 to good causes and for other TV roles.

She is a financial expert for a monthly phone-in show on BBC Radio and is a regular media commentator on financial issues.


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