“There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t.”

If this is a head-scratcher or you don’t understand why tech nerds (sorry not sorry – you know who you are) might confuse Halloween and Christmas *, then what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate (movie reference – this is how we talk – 5 points).

To software developers like me, communication is a necessary evil of doing business and breaking the ice can be stressful when anticipating a first contact (10 points).  Of course, it always helps if you can find someone who speaks the same language.  On that note, by the way, Happy Star Wars Day (15 points)!

Lately, I’ve been dealing a lot with various third parties for collaborations on both conceptual business requirements and data-specific technical specifications for EDI.  Now, if you can use the words “retained earnings” in a sentence, I’m not your guy, but I’ll talk your ear off about the technical minutiae of a SQL data export.

So, what’s a good ice-breaker and how can you foreshadow how that first engagement may go?  Read all the blogs you want about what you’re doing wrong on Zoom, but consider this as what may sound anecdotal and counter-intuitive, but I backed into it accidentally and will swear by it going forward.

This will come as no surprise, but my default Google account photo is a 20-sided die, the iconic cornerstone of Dungeons & Dragons, referred to as a d20.  I had forgotten about it when I joined a Zoom meeting a couple of weeks ago until an unknown woman’s voice on the other end exclaimed, “Is that a dodecahedron?  Do you play D&D?”  Just the day before, a financial guy I met with on Zoom had no freaking idea what he was looking at.  It was like trying to explain the punch line of a joke, but at least I knew where I stood with him in the communication department.  While that was disappointing (but not unexpected), I was delighted to prove my business/tech hypothesis and know that this was a woman I could communicate with and count on productive interactions.

So, ignore the bloggers and take my advice (yes, I’m being ironic).  Keep your camera off at first and make your photo something that you may be able to make a connection with.  Company logos may seem professional, but they’re also too clinical; the people on the call already know where you’re from and want to know who you are.  A picture of your pet, a place you’ve travelled to, or a conversation piece like a d20 may go a long way.  As they say on the cooking competition shows, put yourself on the plate.  Then, when you turn on the camera, it’s as though you’ve already met.