Networking with Video Chats

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Online Chat Networking

Barcamp Session Cowork2020

It’s part of a barcamp experience: trying something. So I ventured into the session with a tool that has just left the beta phase. Why?  Because for all those who cannot use video conferencing via Zoom with its practical Breakout Rooms, this tool offers an option for random 1:1 video chats for online networking.

Both in a virtual barcamp and currently in larger networks or coworking communities, the random personal exchange possibilities are missing.  This was also frequently mentioned in the feedback round of the Barcamp Coworking last Saturday in Germany.  With the tool Icebreaker.Video I tested with interested people at the COWORK2020 the randomly assigned meeting of two people in video chats.

In the end, we only played one of my three prepared rounds, because of the greatest learning: If an application with video & audio is already running (Circuit for the virtual barcamp), it is difficult to participate in an Icebreaker.Video session.

DoSchu @ Barcamp Coworking #cowork2020
DoSchu @ Barcamp Coworking #cowork2020

Community Meetings

Last November, I registered for the users community of Buffer, a smart social media tool. Every month the community manager invites to an online meeting, the so called CommuniTea/Coffee via Icebreaker.Video, a very nice platform for doing online network gatherings.

First, participants meet in a text-chat environment. Then the community manager sends everybody into random video chat sessions with a person from the participating group.  To start conversations quickly, cards with questions are offered in this personal space on the right of the chat partner’s video image.  After a period of time previously chosen by the host, all participants return to the text chat.  This is followed by a short exchange about the experiences in the conversation before the next round of video chats starts.

Screenshots from the Session with Icebreaker.Video

Exchange & Networking

Until recently, this online tool was only available in closed beta, but now anyone can use it for a networking event. As an inspiration for virtual networking gatherings of coworking communities, I brought it to the barcamp session.

For such online meetings, random conversations in video chat are a perfect fit:

  • Events – Make new acquaintances during an online warm up for barcamps, conferences or online community gathering.  Especially in the current Covid-19 situation, this can be a good alternative to the casual kick-off meetings the evening before in restaurants or bars.  Almost like an online edition of the Friday evening before a barcamp’s Saturday.
  • Communities – Meet members of the coworking community to get to know each other better.  Or bring together a community like the social media tool Buffer does with its users.  It is an effective substitute today and can remain a useful supplement in the long term.
  • Onboarding – Integrate new members into a coworking community when you can’t meet in person like these days, or if your coworkers are of the very flexible type.

Recruiter’s Perspective

The last mentioned aspect of onboarding was taken up in the session by a participant working in human resources.  For him, the chat model seemed to be a playful online background for interviews with applicants or new employees in combination with permanent staff.  However, the system would have to be able to mix these two groups appropriately.

That’s when I remembered that last week I became across the online service Bizroulette, currently in beta.  It is developed by Florian Bergmann, who some time ago offered a coworking space for software developers at Munich’s Sendlinger Tor.  His 1:1 chat tool for business professionals is available in the variants Bizroulette Events and Bizroulette Companies.  So I think this could be an interesting solution for this topic – and it’s hosted in Germany.

Conclusion Networking via Online Chat

The feedback on the experiment during my COWORK2020 session was overall positive.  I would like to thank the participants for taking part in the test with Icebreaker.Video and I am really curious who will use one of the two tools mentioned for online networking or team onboarding in the near future.

URLs for further investigation

Online Chat Networking

please note: Both the session and this blog post were not initiated or paid for by any of the mentioned providers. •  Illustration & photos: DoSchu / Rayaworx • Translated with the assistance of www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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Networking with Video Chats

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(de) Hier bloggen Doris (DoSchu) & Rainer über Coworking, Coworkation, „work anywhere“ sowie aus dem Coworking Space Rayaworx in Santanyí
(en) Doris (DoSchu) & Rainer blog about coworking, coworkation, work anywhere, and news from the coworking space Rayaworx Mallorca

Doris & Rainer Rayaworx Mallorca
(Foto: Simone Naumann)

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