Connecting Clients in a Virtual World

Nancy Settle-Murphy and Bruce Peters

You just finished a highly-charged client advisory board session, and you're already imagining how the next one should look. As you start thinking through the agenda, you realize that six months is way too long to wait if you want to capitalize on the momentum created here. You know that clients' overbooked calendars coupled with your overstretched budget means that you can't possible reconvene this group any sooner unless you can find a way to arrange a virtual advisory board meeting that will keep people focused and engaged.

Whether they're called client advisory boards, user groups, or customer feedback sessions, most such meetings are held face-to-face, and for good reason. Trusting relationships are easier to cultivate eye-to-eye, and honest two-way communications are usually far more effective when nonverbal forms of communication come into play. We're not suggesting replacing onsite client advisory meetings with online sessions. But we are recommending that you consider augmenting these onsite sessions with well-planned and productive online sessions to continue vital discussions and build on important relationships.

As you read through these practical ideas for planning and running remote client group conversations, we encourage you to envision remote sessions as a bridge linking together the ideas and energy produced in the face-to-face sessions.

Regardless of whether your client advisory session takes place onsite or in person, you'll still need to carefully orchestrate every moment, from before the session and well after. Make sure that all come fully prepared to participate productively from the first minute. To do this, people need to know the intended outcomes, their role, what technology if any may be used and how to access, and what homework they must do to come ready for a productive conversation.

About the Authors
Nancy Settle-Murphy is founder, president, and principal consultant for Chrysalis International Inc., a facilitation, training and strategic communications consulting firm based in Boxborough, Massachusetts. Please visit her web site at for related articles and tips.
Bruce W. Peters is co-founder of PeerHQ

© Copyright 2006 Chrysalis International, Inc. All rights reserved.