Business Communications: Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Inspector + Client2Like the old Bob Dylan song, “Times, they are a-changing,” and that’s especially true with business communication. In case there are any “old dogs” reading this, you have to embrace change or be left behind. Or worse yet — be called an “old dog.” Still, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting or even a phone call. I find the best mix of communication for business is a mix of the old and the new.

Pretty face to pretty face. There is no substitute for meeting clients or making sales calls face-to-face. In my limited-capacity mind that’s the best way to solicit business, build relationships and work out any perceived differences that two interested parties might have. And ultimately that’s the only way to shake hands. Shaking hands is the best way to greet someone and, assuming it’s a business meeting, symbolize “deal done.”(Let’s hope the handshake is never entirely replaced with the Howie Mandel fist bump.)

Did I catch you at a busy time? In order of importance, and next to face-to-face meetings, is the ever-so-important phone call. I can only guess at how many business-related phone calls I’ve had in the last 25-plus years. Some days my ear would literally become sore. Once you know someone well, a phone call is still one of the best ways to discuss details of a business matter, build relationships or tell that joke that only you find funny (all my jokes are funny, I think). For years, phone calls greatly outnumbered business-related emails.

Emails: Can’t live without them. At first emails seemed more interesting than practical. I might have checked them once a day. But we now have the ability to attach photographs, documents and the like, which has made email an essential business tool. It’s said that most businesspeople get more business-related emails than they do phone calls. I believe that, for that has definitely been the case for me for some time now. And speaking of phone calls, who doesn’t have a cellphone?

Text messaging. Are business-related text messages slowly outnumbering business-related phone calls and emails combined? I wouldn’t bet against it. There are a lot of people who silence the ringer on their phones and use them to call out but don’t answer incoming calls. They use their cells for mostly texting.

I’ll save webinars, video conferencing, etc., for another time.

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