Career Column
Making Technology Personal
Enhance personal growth and career development
Megan Larison
Merck & Co., Inc.

uring the pandemic, many people recognized the need to significantly accelerate innovation to help ensure the future of our collective work, health, and advancements in medicine. Similarly, through developing a growth mindset and maximizing technology advancements, one can also evolve and enhance their personal growth.

Professional and Personal

Many people have had to adjust to presenting on virtual platforms. It can be challenging to virtually captivate your audience and display confidence through your computer screen. Addressing the difficulties of displaying confidence and speaking up in virtual meetings has been my own challenge. I have learned to use these best practices when presenting:

  • Look directly into the camera when speaking.
  • Stand instead of sitting when presenting.
  • Dress professionally (at least a professional-looking top or shirt).
  • Minimize background distractions.

Leveraging different platforms based on the goal of the conversation and the intended audience can help you communicate with others more effectively.

Closer from a Distance

You can also use technology to build closer and more authentic relationships if you keep these three qualities in mind: transparency, credibility, and likability.

Transparency allows people to get to know you and demonstrates your authenticity. Taking Zoom meetings from home, for example, gives others the opportunity to see into your home and personal life, which in turn provides more authenticity and a degree of “professional intimacy.” Authenticity can accelerate building trust, which nurtures your credibility and likability. Being yourself, vulnerable, and transparent can enhance your likability. Asking questions and listening intently can also help you build stronger credibility.

But there are also challenges to developing more personal relationships virtually. It can be difficult to transition our relationship-building habits from in-person to virtual environments, and it may require extra work to make sure you interact in a way that builds genuine and meaningful relationships. One way to overcome these challenges is to expand beyond professional topics in work conversations. Tell your colleagues about your pet or child, mention your newest hobby, or ask about their weekend to connect more personally. Sharing glimpses of your personal life helps coworkers get a better picture of the multidimensional person that you are and builds their trust and comfort with you.

Real Communication in Virtual Workplace

Even though technology can increase workplace productivity, working in a virtual environment still presents challenges to career development. The lack of face-to-face interactions with coworkers makes collaboration and team building more challenging. Sharing experiences face-to-face and developing trust among your team members is important for career development. While working remotely, you may not receive regular feedback like you would if you were working in the same office at the same time with others. This can present an additional challenge to career development. These steps will help overcome these challenges:

  • Practice open communication with all team members to enhance team building.
  • Routinely ask for feedback from managers and mentors.
  • Turn on your video camera during virtual team meetings.