One of the biggest issues facing businesses today and in the next few years is communicating effectively. The ability to communicate effectively is still the same: know your audience, speak in their language, and hear their questions.
But how do businesses do it?
The Business Ledger for Suburban Chicago discusses keeping current clients as the best way to navigate through the current economic conditions, and cites warmer, more personalized communications tactics as the best way to go.
"A continuing dependence on technology is also a barrier for attorneys to overcome when trying to develop more personal relationships with clients. With the emergence of e-mail as the primary communication tool in business, attorneys now must make a conscious effort to stay in close contact with their clients through phone conversations and face-to-face communication.
'I try to continue to have face-to-face contact with clients,' said Kenneth Clingen, a partner in Clingen Callow & McLean. 'Some younger lawyers are a little reticent to pick up the phone and call clients. They're more comfortable communicating by e-mail.
'It's an advantage to those lawyers who will continue to try to have face-to-face contact with their clients. If you don't have that, it may affect your ability to strengthen the relationship.'"
A surprising truth to most business leaders or managers seeking better ways to improve their leadership skills is learning to communicate.
Furnitureworld.com cites the importance of looking at communication as a two-way street and provides a helpful (and doable) list.
"First, you must realize and accept that clear communication is always a two-way process. It's not enough to speak clearly; you have to make sure you're being heard and understood. To facilitate this, use the following two-way communication primer:
1. Prepare how you'll communicate
- Clarify the goal of the communication
- Plan carefully before sending it or meeting in person
- Anticipate the receiver's viewpoint and feelings
2. Deliver the message
- Express your meaning with conviction
- Relate the message to your larger goals
- Identify the action to be taken
- Confirm the other person understands
3. Receive the message
- Keep an open mind
- Identify key points in the message
- Value constructive feedback and use it to grow
- Confirm your understanding
4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the communication afterwards
5. Take corrective action as necessary"
In short, if you're talking in a vacuum, who is listening? You need to make business communications personal and relevant to clients, and above all, think of it as a conversation, not a lecture. Sometimes the most important things you'll ever learn about your business are things you'll "hear" from your own clients.