Communicating effectively with clients and colleagues is essential to ensure your business succeeds. Understanding what's expected of you will help you serve your clients better and can help make you more productive, too.
Whether you need to get more organised on a day-to-day basis, want to understand how your own company works and what makes your colleagues and clients tick, the key is effective communication.
Here are four tips to completely transform the way you communicate, making you a more effective leader and more successful in your career.
The first step to improving your business communication skills is listening properly. Digest every word that's said, consider your reply, and make sure you address everything that requires a response.
Ensure you don't talk over anyone else. It shows you're not listening and makes it difficult to properly digest the full context of the conversation at hand. It's also frustrating to the person that's talking and may lead to them losing track of what they're saying.
It's useful to repeat what someone is saying in your answers. Although it may seem odd at first, it's a great way of confirming what you've heard is absolutely correct.
It may be a cliche, but "there's no I in team" is a good mantra to live by when it involves improving your business communication skills. Collaborating with others not only means you can hopefully spread the load of work - especially useful if you have too much on your plate - but it'll also encourage idea generation and improve the avenues of communication.
When you're working together as a team and using tools such as Yammer, Slack, or even Skype Messenger to chat , you're opening up the communication channels. By keeping up to date with team members or clients, you can easily spot issues before they arise.
Check the detail
If you receive hundreds of emails daily, you may be tempted to skim read them to save time, but it's important to pay attention to the detail and ensure you're detailed in your response too.
Not digesting the details could lead to mistakes and miscommunication, which is not at all an attractive trait for businesses.
If you're struggling under the load of your emails, consider using an app that can organise your emails into those you really must spend time digesting, those that just require a quick response, and others that don't require anything from you. This will help you become more efficient and reply effectively to everything that needs to be addressed.
Take the time to learn about the people you're communicating with. If you use a CRM, it's a good idea that you track relationships after every conversation.
Even noting things like your contacts' children's names, what they enjoy doing at weekends and their pet dog's favourite food that one may be going a little too far. Learning about a person, both inside and outside of work, will enable you to communicate with them more effectively. Picking up on parts of their life that are important to them means they'll warm to you faster, improving the conversation both ways.
But beware of stepping over the line too much keep business chat about the business, but use the facts you hold as a way to start the conversation off on a lighter note rather than getting immediately down to business.
You should also look to always build your network of contacts, whether that be on social media platforms such as LinkedIn or by finding people in your industry (even competitors) that would be useful to connect with. You can learn a lot from your peers and using tips from some of the more experienced contacts could well benefit your career too.
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Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.
Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.
As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.