5 tips for virtual relationship building

November 19, 2020 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
Connecting with peers and building relationships is a key part of the education experience, whether you’re learning on-campus or online. As a pioneer in online education, our online classrooms at Arizona State University are designed to provide the best virtual learning experience possible, which includes ways to engage with your instructors, peers and university resources. Whether you’re new to our online modality at ASU or a pro, here are five tips for virtual relationship building and feeling connected to the Sun Devil community.

Turn your video on

While this may feel like a basic tip, it goes beyond your face on camera. When you’re engaging with faculty or your cohort, make sure you bring your whole self to the conversation. The added dimension of facial expressions brings authenticity to your meetings and fosters a deeper connection with those in the session.

When we say “bring your whole self,” we really mean it. You have a lot going on and multitasking can feel like the only way to get things done, but truly being present in this virtual time can build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.

“After being accepted into graduate school, networking, finding my academic peers and looking for those who have been where I am now all became a focus,” said Drew McDowell, Brand Ambassador and online Master of Arts in sociology student. “It wasn’t easy changing my ways of thinking about my education as solely earning a degree (versus as an opportunity to develop relationships, too), but I made the shift!”

Participate in forums and discussions

Go above and beyond in your course discussions to share your thoughts and connect with your cohort. Consider sharing your ideas through video and leaving detailed feedback on posts you identify with. You never know who could end up in your next class or on your next group assignment. Try to maximize your student interactions and put in the extra effort to connect with others in your courses.

“For online students, many courses offer hallway discussions and discussion boards. While some students will use these at a minimum, I would encourage you to create greater discourse through these. Not only will you find a healthier appreciation for academic discussion, you may also find a friend or two in the process,” said Drew.

Explore Sun Devil Sync and Sun Devils Connect

Discover unique opportunities to get involved in organizations or events and meet other Sun Devils through Sun Devil Sync. You can even track your involvement and show it off to the community to meet like-minded people and connect over shared interests.

Another way to meet your fellow Sun Devils is through Sun Devils Connect, a Facebook group for online students to connect with their peers. This virtual experience opens the floor for students to discuss topics and share ideas with all online students. You can broaden your ASU network and meet people from different programs who you may not have the opportunity to connect with otherwise.

“Use social media to connect with people who share similar academic interests and experiences,” said Drew. “You never know who you might meet and how they can impact your next steps in life.”

Network with faculty and alumni

You may not think of faculty and professors as part of your network, but they’re a valuable resource. Once you build a rapport with your instructor through class conversations, one-on-one meetings or even small talk, it’ll be easier to dig into your aspirations or share career concerns. Asking for help shows you trust their guidance, and trust is the foundation of a lasting relationship. Plus, it will make requesting a letter of recommendation significantly easier.

Your instructors may even be able to introduce you to alumni they’ve had in class before and have a relationship with. At ASU, we have a thriving network of nearly 500,000 Sun Devils worldwide — leaders, doers, shapers and learners. Connecting with alumni, especially those in similar fields, can help you build your personal network as well as be a resource on your professional path.

Use your resources

Have you explored all of your resources as an online student? Have you opened the websites, spoken up on social platforms and engaged in what’s in front of you? You can connect with the online community, the ASU tutoring centers, libraries, career center and even meet other students through an ASU dedicated Slack channel.

“In growing my own network of friendships during my time of online education, I’ve found it more enjoyable to share what I’m learning,” said Drew. “I’ve also found that I have become part of a support network that spans many interests, yet supports the same goal: academic and mental wellness. Often enough we don’t even know if we’re missing out on a resource or update in our field, however I’ve come to build more resources with friendships, and I keep in touch with large changes in my academic field by seeking out mentors.”

You can hear from other students and brand ambassadors like Drew by following the ASU Online Instagram account and use the #LearnASULive hashtag across your favorite social channels to browse and share your own posts with the community.

The Sun Devil community is at your disposal. Make the most of it!


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