Category Archive: Communication

6 Tips for Establishing a Solid Online Reputation

~by Dixie Somers~

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As a business owner, you may understand that information posted on the Internet about your company can make or break you. People respond well to positive reviews, and they’ll carefully avoid companies that have a negative reputation online. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to safeguard your company’s reputation and encourage more positive information online.

1. Monitor Facebook

online reputationFacebook is the single largest social media site with 1.44 billion people actively using it every month. You can use your Facebook business account to get your information out to customers, improve brand awareness and promote a positive image.

2. Respond to the Bad Reviews

No company can please every customer every time. There will come a point when a bad review is posted about your agency. It may be deserved, or it could be the result of an unreasonable customer. Either way, you need to respond to it.

Start by reviewing the complaint to be sure that you understand the issue. If necessary and possible, reach out to the customer privately for clarification on the problem. See if there is any middle ground between what the customer needs and what your business can do. When dealing with the customer, agree with them as much as possible, and avoid the use of any negative words. If you’re able to come to an agreement with the customer, then ask them kindly to remove or update the negative feedback.

3. Ongoing Activity at the Website

One of the most important things you can do is to put plenty of your own positive content out on the internet. This makes it harder for people to find complaints about you. Update your website regularly to improve online branding. Consider buying additional domains that contain your brand name and then use them for blogging. You’ll improve your brand recognition, website traffic and your online reputation.

Remember to be yourself when building your online reputation this way. Post plenty of pictures of yourself and employees at corporate gatherings. Highlight any community events that you attend or support. If you have hobbies and extra-curricular activities that are relevant to your industry, then share that information in order to better connect with customers. The more people in your area know and like you, the less likely they are to put negative information about your company online.

The Internet is full of false information. Companies like ACN are seen as scams due to negative information online, and it can be difficult to overcome the bad reports. However, you can minimize this risk by keeping positive information in your social media accounts, on your personal website and in other areas online.

4. Admit and Apologize When You’re Wrong

It’s important to admit when you’re wrong and to apologize. Everyone makes mistakes, and even the most trusted companies can misstep once in a while. You’d be surprised how far a sincere apology can take you.

online reputation5. Don’t Wait for Problems

Many business owners make the mistake of waiting until they’re having issues to address online concerns. However, this tactic can turn repairing the damage into an uphill battle. Start off on the right foot by getting your positive information out there and updating it regularly. You’ll minimize the risk of serious complaints and make it easier to overcome problems later.

6. The Google Alert

Invest in a Google alert system that will notify you when your brand is mentioned online. This way, you can become aware of complaints right away and step in to limit the damage. You can also keep an eye on your reputation, watch for praise, and thank customers when they share a positive experience.

Remember to always stay positive when online. The Internet has the power to take your words and send them viral. More importantly, many customers report that they will stop doing business with a company following a negative interaction online. Remember this when crafting any type of posts, responses, blogs, or updates to share online.


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Dixie Somers

Meet the Author: Dixie Somers

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, and those with an entrepreneurial spirit. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.


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A Cohesive Marketing Strategy Can Help You Reach Your Goals

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

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All too often I see businesses taking a spray and pray approach to their marketing strategy. They hire 14 different people to handle their marketing, but these 14 people aren’t familiar with all of the components of their customer’s marketing. And then they try to pick the “best of breed” among all of the different providers.

Cohesive Marketing StrategyUnfortunately, this can be a very costly maneuver, and it can also take a lot of time to manage. It may make you feel better to have a dozen different people working on Facebook ad campaigns, but the reality is that if you’re not using a cohesive strategy for marketing, you’re probably leaving a lot of opportunities for optimization on the table.  

One example of this in particular is putting together a cohesive communication strategy. If you are working your blog strategy and content strategy together with your social media strategy, you can actually increase the organic reach of your business. You will likely spend less money because you are using the content you’re generating, and building your business on that content. This way all of your proverbial ‘marketing horses’ are pulling the cart in the same direction. This is much more efficient and cost-effective than having your ‘marketing horses’ trying to pull the cart in 14 different directions and hoping that you make net forward progress.  

Marketing strategy is about helping you reach your goals, effectively, quickly, and by spending the least amount of money.

Your marketing strategy may encompass blogging, Facebook ads, Google Adwords, content strategies, different platforms, back linking, video, Facebook groups, and more. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every business or every non-profit organization.  

Work with a professional to decide what your goals and objectives are, and then work to meet those goals.  


Have you been using Google as your business consultant?

Are you ready to start working with an expert in business instead?

Schedule a consult with me today.


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Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

Haley Lynn GrayHaley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.

Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

Connect with Haley:


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How to Get Your First Speaking Gigs

~by Deb Bixler~

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Becoming a public speaker is something that many aspire to but few take action on.

Whether you are a direct sales consultant who would like to speak for leads, or a leader and a trainer ready to take that next step, getting that first speaking engagement on the calendar may be daunting.

speaking gigs

Get Your First Speaking Gigs

The simplest – and most foolproof I might add – way to date your first speaking engagement is to reach out to local clubs and groups who have monthly meetings and offer yourself as a free speaker.

Every Kiwanis, Lions Club, Junior League and Women’s Club features special entertainment at every meeting. Many of them often meet monthly or even weekly.

It is easy to get invited as a free speaker to these clubs! Once you get invited to one and do a great job, then others will begin to call you because most club members belong to more than one club.

Here is what you do:

Know your topics – I am sure you do already, but it is a good idea to have several topics you can speak on. These do not have to be related to your business. Actually, they can be anything that you are skilled at, whether that’s a hobby or business skill.

  • Write out your speech titles and a quick one-line description or subtitle. (Don’t write the speeches!)
  • Do a Google search using your county, state and service clubs. (Like this: Augusta County, VA, service clubs)
  • Start dialing for your first job!

Most likely the results on your search will bring up many groups as well as a directory of groups. Some will have phone numbers and some will not.

When you start calling, chances are you will not get the right person. Just tell them you heard that the group was looking for meeting speakers and you would like to offer your services.

They may send you on to someone else, in which case you reference the referral in your call. “Larry asked me to give you a call; he said you were looking for meeting speakers. What kinds of topics do you usually look for?”

Let them tell you what they usually do, then pick one off your list that is as close to the topic as possible.

speaking gigsOnce you have a date, be sure to ask questions that give you the information that you need:

  • What is the time allowance?
  • At what point during the meeting is your time allocated?
  • Can you do a prize drawing and give away something to the guests?

The time question is key because often the meeting has a specific agenda. You could be given a small slot, but anything is better than nothing. You MUST honor their time!!

The prize drawing is your lead-gathering technique. A speaker always shares their bio, and then it is appropriate to sprinkle your services into the talk as long as you are not too sales-y.

Go early, make friends, do a drawing, stay after and make more friends, knock their socks off with your presentation, and ask for referrals!

Keep adding more FREE speaking gigs to your calendar!!! You are now an experienced speaker and it is only a matter of time before paid events will come your way.


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Deb BixlerMeet the Author: Deb Bixler

Deb is a direct sales success story in the most classic sense! She used the technique of becoming a free speaker to find leads as a tool to quit her full time job using a home party plan business. Her Cash Flow Show party plan website, CashFlowShow.com, was named as one of the top 3 blogs for direct sales consultants worldwide and the Cash Flow Show Radio is on the list of 2012 & 2013 list of “Must Have” items for the industry.

Visit the Cash Flow Show website for more party plan sales tips.


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4 Ways the Best Business Owners Manage Projects Effectively

~by Rachelle Wilber~

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As a business owner, you will eventually start a project intended to grow the company. Perhaps you’ve already completed your first project but were left completely exhausted from all the problems that arose. Fortunately, running projects doesn’t have to be stressful. If you implement the following project management tips, your next or first project will run more smoothly.

1. Use a Project Definition Document for Planning

manage projectsSome people make the mistake of jumping into a project without planning. Although planning might not be the most exciting step to you, it will save you a tremendous amount of time in the long run. If you’re one who enjoys planning, then this tip will come easily for you. A project definition document should clearly and concisely define the project, goals and financials involved. Key headings to include in the document are project overview, objectives, scope, assumptions and risks, organization, approach, signature page, and initial effort, cost, and duration estimates.

2. Spot Warning Signs

A good project manager knows what the warning signs are that a project is in trouble. They stay aware at all times in case a red flag arises. Warning signs that something’s going wrong with the project include a difference in schedule or budget that gradually grows larger, activities that you thought were completed actually aren’t, and you’re taking unscheduled overtime to hit deadlines. These warning signs are perceived as normal to inexperienced business owners. However, they should not be occurring. The sooner you take action to fix the problem, the better off you and your project will be.

manage projects3. Learn How to Manage Projects

You can earn a master of science in projects online as a fast way to learn how to manage projects efficiently and effectively. It will speed up the process of mastering project management because you’re not learning solely via trial and error, one of the slowest ways to learn. A master of science in projects online will teach you how to manage complex projects, balance competing demands, and measure schedule variance and cost variance.

4. Communicate Effectively with Your Team

The best business owners manage projects efficiently and effectively by communicating effectively with their teams. Poor communication will result in team members not understanding what’s expected of them. They may make mistakes that slow down the project. A lack of effective communication can result in tension in the workplace as well.


There may be a few heated arguments before the project is over. Planning, awareness, knowledge, and effective communication are key components of executing a project seamlessly. The best business owners know this and manage projects by applying the four tips listed above. They acquire a Master of Science in Projects to ensure they know what they’re doing. And they take the time to create a project definition document before starting the project.


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Rachelle WilberMeet the Author: Rachelle Wilber

Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym.

Follow Rachelle here:


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PR Tips for When Your Business is Facing a Crisis

~by Mila Payton~

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A public relations disaster is a company’s biggest nightmare. Such a crisis usually leads to lowered public approval ratings and internal management difficulties, and in severe cases may even threaten the continued existence of the business itself. That’s why it is imperative to know just how to react whenever a PR problem rears its ugly head. With that in mind, here are some battle-tested PR strategies for just such an occasion:

Listen to what the people are saying

public relations disasterAs one of the most important business acronyms around, WOM (also known as “word of mouth”) can make all the difference in the world when it comes to keeping your business afloat in troubled times. To that end, you’ll first need to scour the Internet and see what people really think about your company. You may not like what you’ll see and it may not even be true, but it will help you gain an understanding of how you’re perceived so you can take steps to try and change it.

Select a primary spokesperson

During difficult times, it is imperative that your business presents a united front when it comes to all communication efforts. By selecting a good spokesperson, you’ll be able to control the messages your company puts across and steer the conversation in an appropriate direction. Keep in mind that a company’s CEO or president might not be the best option for handling all communication needs, especially if they are too closely involved with the case at hand.

Respond in a timely manner

Once your crisis management team is assembled, it’s time to take direct action. In today’s internet-obsessed world, most of the battlefield will likely be online. So you’ll need to focus your efforts towards counteracting the tide of anger and disappointment that will inevitably come your way. Try to offer quick and fact-based responses in a timely manner, but also take care to express sympathy and concern whenever there are real victims involved.

Engage in positive actions

public relations disasterOne of the best ways to steer the conversation back in your favor is to engage in positive actions that can really make a difference to the people who have been affected by the recent mishap. You don’t have to take any drastic actions if you cannot afford them, however. Simply showing support and engaging in volunteer work can earn your company some much-needed goodwill in such times.

Keep your own employees up to speed

Finally, an oft-underrated aspect of handling PR disasters lies in keeping your own employees in check. People are people, and they can be swayed by rumors and media reports, so you should take extra care in communicating the truth to your staff at all times during a crisis. Ideally, an internal crisis communication team should be set up in order to offer clear-cut answers to employees’ questions and help maintain a positive atmosphere within the company.

Always keep in mind that PR disasters are temporary by their very nature, and will eventually pass. Therefore, hold on tight to your values during such trying times, and you’ll most likely emerge unscathed at the other end sooner rather than later.


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Mila Payton

Meet the Author: Mila Payton

Mila Payton holds a BSc in International Business. She likes reading and writing about business, education and finance. In her free time, Mila enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.


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Why Facebook Live Videos are a Powerful Marketing Tool

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

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Facebook Live Videos are one of the newest tools that Facebook has unleashed on the world, and it is a massively powerful tool for promoting your business. When you use Facebook Live on your business page, anyone who has liked your page has your Facebook Live pop to the top of their Facebook feed for the duration of the time that you’re live. If you do this from your personal page, all of your friends see it. If you do it in a group, all of the group members see it.  

Facebook Live VideosImagine the power of being able to pop to the top of your followers’ feeds whenever you want to, and staying there for the duration of the time you’re on Facebook Live. That is groundbreaking. It’s almost better than paid ads because people are getting the opportunity to interact with you in real time.

The next big win for Facebook Live is that you can save the video, and it will get seen over and over again by your followers. Facebook seems to give Facebook Live videos preferential treatment in people’s feeds, so you get seen more often, and that will help you build credibility.

SO, if you don’t have a large following on your Facebook Business page, and you don’t own your own Facebook group, how are you supposed to use it? The beauty of this one is that you can actually go live in any Facebook Group. That is SO powerful. You can hop from one group to the next doing Facebook Live videos. As long as you mind the rules of each individual group, you are getting nearly unlimited visibility from each of those groups.

Try it today and see how it works for you. Build yourself a list of times when you can go live on Facebook and build a list of tips of the day. You might be amazed at the interaction that you get for your business online. Don’t forget to tell people about your latest specials and what you’re working on for your business!

 


Have you been using Google as your business consultant?

Are you ready to start working with an expert in business instead?

Schedule a consult with me today.


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Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

Haley Lynn GrayHaley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.

Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

Connect with Haley:


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Why Should You Care About an Email List?

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

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It has been said many times that the money is in the list. But many of the business owners I talk to, whether they are a realtor, insurance agent, HVAC repair company, or in Direct Sales, do not use or manage their email lists. That is quite simply money that they’re leaving on the table.  

I’m not saying that building a massive list should necessarily be the goal, but you should be collecting email addresses from people you network and do business with and adding them to your email list (provided they’ve given verbal or written permission). You should also be sending a regular newsletter to your email list, even if it’s just once a month.  

So what do you do with your email list?

email listYour clients and prospects want to hear from you. Many want to be reminded to have their oil changed or get their HVAC system serviced. They want to be educated (at least a little) and make sure that they’re covered. If you fill that spot, they will remain happy customers for life. The businesses that I’ve seen do this have managed to turn it into a money minting machine for growing their businesses. The businesses that don’t use their email list are continually wondering why things aren’t growing the way they should be.

If you think about the year as 12 months, then that is only 12 newsletters you need to write and send in a year. Each month can have a theme. Or you can tie the subject to major holidays or changes of season. If you spend 15-20 minutes, chances are you can come up with a good list of topics.  

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If you are totally stumped and having trouble coming up with topics, or if the idea of doing this is overwhelming to you, then we should talk. We can help you get those monthly newsletters out to your clients with help from our professional copywriters.


Have you been using Google as your business consultant?

Are you ready to start working with an expert in business instead?

Schedule a consult with me today.


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Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

Haley Lynn GrayHaley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.

Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

Connect with Haley:


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Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/why-should-you-care-about-email-list/

How to Manage Employee Focus When Big Changes Are Coming

~by Dixie Somers~

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Planning a major company change should include an emphasis on employee adjustments. The impact of relocation or reorganization can be stressful for everyone involved.

employee focus

To help employees stay focused, consider taking steps like the following.

Give plenty of notice

It’s never a good idea to spring a big change on employees. Give ample notice, months or weeks in advance, to allow preparation and transition time. Email notices, posted bulletins around the premises, and even one-to-one informal discussions let employees feel like a valued part of the process and will allow them time to plan their workload accordingly.

Offer support and assistance

Many changes can loom during a major company event. If physical objects need to be moved, arrange for assistance from a corporate moving service like Wheaton World Wide Moving. Tasks like organizing storage, packing, loading and unloading, as well as setting up office equipment can be managed through a professional service, thus helping to reduce the burden on employees. In addition, professional corporate movers can advise office staff how to transport important items safely and efficiently.

Be willing to negotiate

Employees involved in a company merger or downsizing may request special assistance, such as an extra day off to move their own families or for an important interview if they are being let go. Those directly involved with company activities as a result of the major change will appreciate overtime pay and schedule adjustments. Listening to employee concerns and answering questions honestly and clearly will prevent confusion and reduce gossip to reassure everyone in the organization.

Provide incentives

Reward employees for patience and support during the transition period. A free lunch or appreciation dinner, while acknowledging above-and-beyond efforts will enhance company morale and let everyone feel like they played a valuable role that was appreciated. Even a mention in the company newsletter or website displays a sense of camaraderie and may enhance company loyalty.

Be prepared to troubleshoot

No matter how well organized a major transition may be, there is still the chance that something, or some things, will go wrong. Try to anticipate and prepare for any difficulties that may arise, such as a company official who is expecting a child and may deliver early, and thus not be available at a critical time.

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A big company change often comes with unexpected opportunities, but also with some challenges. Plan ahead to help employees navigate the impending event with confidence and success.


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Dixie SomersMeet the Author: Dixie Somers

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, and those with an entrepreneurial spirit. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.


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10 Useful Mobile Device Apps for Your Business

~by Julie Martin~

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Mobile technology is here to stay, and it is slowly finding its way into the board room. However, until mobile phone and tablets offer some useful and functional apps for business use, tablets and phones will simply be a business novelty.

Listed below are 10 mobile device apps that may prove very useful in an office or business setting. Most of the apps are for Apple devices, which makes sense since Apple has far more apps available for their devices. However, some of the apps will also work on the Android OS, BlackBerry OS and Windows OS.

1. Dropbox for Teams

This is a very popular app that has been changed to allow people to work in teams. Multiple people are allowed access to one cloud account, so that they may upload and share files between their small group. It has made file sharing a little easier.

2. StratPad v2

This is an iPad app that has Yammer integration. It allows people to share and collaborate on business plans and business strategies. And, it may all be done in real-time during a meeting. It allows people to synchronize their files for easier collaboration.

Mobile Device Apps3. Speaktoit

This is a productivity app that you can use to plan your business week. It has a calendar function for scheduling your weekly tasks. Added to which, you can also see news on the markets and check your stocks and shares too. It works for the Android, Windows and iOS.

4. Meeting Mapper

This is an iPad app, and there is also a “fierce” version. The principle of the app revolves around making you more productive through careful planning. It allows you to schedule meetings and events that will happen during your working day, including things such as alerting you when your next meeting is.

5. Tappestry for Organizations

This is a form of social media that you can access via an app. It allows businesses to share technology and expertise. It allows people to share their knowledge and information to aid their education and human resources departments. You can use this app on any OS.

6. EchoSign for iOS

This is an app for Apple devices. It allows people to sign for things using an electronic device. The app is very expensive, but that is probably due to its increased security. Hand your tablet or phone to your client with the contract within, and he or she can sign it using this app.

7. UX Write

This is an iPhone and iPad app that works as a fully functional and multi-featured word processor for a mobile device. This app can be used for simple business use, all the way up to creating and editing a professional book, report or research paper.

8. Evernote for Business

This is a very popular note taking app that works on all of the OSes. It allows people to take notes on the app and then save them in categories for easier retrieval later. It also allows people to save voice memos and other multimedia things too.

9. RabbleBrowser

This is an iPad app that offers a browser for sharing information. It allows people to upload things to Dropbox (cloud computing), where the information may then be shared. This browser makes it easier to share images, files and URLs via the Dropbox cloud.

10. Workshare

This app works on the iPhone and iPad, and is yet another cloud computing app. It sells itself as a portable flash drive, where a person needs only to upload the documents or information onto the Workshare cloud, and then he or she may access the documents via the app.


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Julie MartinMeet the Author: Julie Martin

Julie Martin is a freelance writer and blogger for many sites, including mymathdone.com. Her passions are blogging and tourism.
You can follow her on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn, where she offers tips and tricks.


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How to Ensure Your Written Communication is Effective

~by Pat Fontana~

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What did that mean?

          What did what mean?

That last email.

          The one I sent last night?

Yeah, that one. You said we need to meet.

          I just thought we needed to meet.

Why? What’s wrong?

          Nothing’s wrong.

Then why do we need to meet?

14 texts later . . . .

          This is silly. I’m calling you.

Why? What’s wrong?

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Does this exchange sound familiar? Whether you communicate through texts or emails or social media messages, the written word can be so easily misinterpreted and can cause long strings of explanatory follow-ups.

There are no emotions, no voice inflections, no facial expressions associated with the written word. Unless you use emoticons, which are usually not appropriate in a professional exchange of communication, the reader has no idea whether you are being sarcastic, are upset, or are just stating facts.

written communicationIn the above example, a lot of time (and thumb energy) was wasted on something that could have been explained quite simply. The meeting was obviously not urgent or about anything devastating. So the original emailer apparently just needed to include some additional information – like what the meeting was going to cover and why she thought they needed it.

Details would have definitely helped here. Without them, the exchange spilled over into text messages and then into a phone call, with both parties feeling frustrated over something that could have been avoided with some basic words of explanation.

Before sending or posting any written communication, carefully consider what you are going to say and who is going to read it. I have a number of business associates who enjoy the “warm and fuzzy” of an inquiry introduction (“Hope you are doing well today”) and a well-wishing conclusion (“Have a wonderful day!”). There are others who won’t read past the first sentence so all of my details need to be immediately evident. They won’t read further explanations. For example, “Let’s meet Monday to review the proposal one more time before I submit it on Tuesday.”

Know your audience. That is a time-tested piece of advice that never gets outdated, regardless of your communication method. Explain what needs to be explained, in simple terms that cannot be misinterpreted. If necessary, yes, pick up the phone and have a conversation. It may be a 20th century approach, but it still works wonders for your business communication efforts.

Oh, and don’t forget to proofread! Spelling errors, grammar errors, punctuation errors, and all the rest may seem minor, but they could make a difference in how your reader perceives you and your business – and whether your message gets conveyed correctly. That’s another topic for another day.


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Pat FontanaMeet the Author: Pat Fontana

Are your words working for you? Pat Fontana is a business writer and communications trainer, focused on helping individuals, small business owners, and corporate leaders improve their business communication skills. She also publishes Carolina Business Woman, the newsletter for women in business in the Carolinas.


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