Why Your Communication Skills Are Uber Important

Having amazing communication skills is one of the most important things you’ll work on in business. Whatever position you’re in, ensuring nobody misunderstands you is a must. You want everybody to be on the same page. Here are a few reasons why your communication skills are so important:

 

Employee Morale And Satisfaction

Keeping up employee morale and satisfaction is crucial if you want to avoid a high turnover of employees. Your employees are your ambassadors, so you really need to keep them happy. By communicating with them effectively, you can ensure they stay with you in the long-run.

 

Customer Service

Being able to communicate for customer service purposes is also important. You’re never going to be able to please everybody, no matter how hard you try. You need standardized customer service processes that come with this. Being able to relate to customers and make them feel good about choosing you again is so important.

 

Customer Engagement

You don’t just want to engage with your customers when they’re upset with you. You need to make sure you’re engaging with them daily on social media, and that means being able to communicate as effectively as you can!

Being able to communicate effectively is a must. It’ll make your life so much easier, and ensure everybody is on the same page. You don’t even have to be a natural born communicator. You can build up these skills over time with practice.

Take a look at the infographic below for more information on this:


credit to USC Online Master of Communication Management

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Cut The Small Talk; It’s Time To Communicate

How much of the communication that happens in your business really gets the message across, and how much is noise? That’s the big question that we’re going to try and help answer here.

Proper communication practice is essential in business. It saves time, it helps you solve problems better, it makes employees more engaged, it even helps you win and keep customers. But it’s a big, multi-faceted topic, so let’s break it down into a few questions, and the answers you should have ready for those questions.

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Is everyone communicating?

This is the big one. There might be some roles in the business you think don’t have as much to contribute as others. However, if you’re not taking the time to check in on them, you could miss some valuable insight.

Keeping an eye on employee performance is only one reason you should do it. It can help you highlight problems in the business operations from the individual’s perspective or bring to light new solutions from a viewpoint you haven’t considered.

Mostly, people like to be included in the business they’re in nine times out of ten. It shows you’re willing to spend some time prioritizing the individual, which they will appreciate and respect. Make sure this practice is learned by all of your managing staff.

Are people on message?

Another reason to ensure that you’re communicating with individual employees individually is to make sure that they’re actually behind what the business is trying to achieve. You might think that it’s important for them to just worry about what lies in their own role, but the truth is that aligning their work with your goals will always result in better engagement.

Rather than just doing work because they know they have to do it, the context of the collaborative objectives of their work can help motivate them. It makes them realize they’re not just a sole worker but part of a team that’s trying to achieve something better. Set clear goals and let employees know how they’re linked to the wider company goals.

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Do people keep asking the same questions?

The first time you hear a question, it demands an answer. The second time, it’s understandable. The third time you hear that same question, it’s starting to waste your time. New employees will need reassurance, but they should be able to find those answers by themselves. But only if they have a means to access them.

This is the process of creating sticky knowledge within the business. It might include the roles and responsibilities and point of contact for individuals. But it should include wider community practices and resources.

Many businesses will print this sticky knowledge out for new employees. However, hosting it online can make it a lot easier to amend with new goals and new knowledge. It’s crucial you make the sticky knowledge easy to read and easy to sift through, as well. If it takes an employee longer to find the information they need than it would to simply ask and receive an answer, you’re doing it wrong.

Are meetings mindless?

The team meeting can be a valuable use of time to quickly get everyone caught up on the most important developments in the business as well as to find and address problems collaboratively. Unfortunately, in a lot of businesses, they become a morning slog that your employees will hate and get very little from. If you want to run your meetings well, you need to make sure they have a purpose from the get-go.

The meeting should have actionable conclusions and, most importantly, they should have a set ending time. If you want to get employees more engaged in a meeting, then get them prepared for them as well. Ask them beforehand if there’s a point they want to bring up or a problem needing a solution. Get them to name the challenges of any point you’re bringing. Most importantly, make sure that responsibility is assigned for the solutions that come out of a meeting.

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Do you spend all day in your inbox?

Sorting out your emails might not be quite as much of a mindless banality as a bad meeting, but it is a time-sink. Keeping on top of emails is important, but it shouldn’t interrupt you all the time at work.

Set periods in the morning, afternoon, and the end of the day to work through your inbox and leave it. But what if people still need you? That’s what the next point is about.

Are you slowed down by single channel communication?

To deal with emails that still need an answer, you should learn how to prioritize them. For instance, set up a public-facing account and an internal account. But email shouldn’t be the only way employees reach out to find you. There are times to use email and times to use other methods.

If it’s a problem that needs a solution quickly, then a face-to-face or a phone call is much better. If you’re discussing a process or a question that’s not quite urgent but requires back-and-forth communication, then keep it to chat clients like Google Hangouts. Keep multiple channels of communication open for different purposes. For instance, emails aren’t good for back-and-forth. Similarly, face-to-face and online chats aren’t good for sharing information that needs to be repeatedly referenced.

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Do people get sent in circles?

Even worse than not finding the right way to communicate is not finding the right person to communicate with. If you have multiple people who deal in customer service or you have a business that has several different teams or locations, then getting sent in circles until the right person is found can be infuriating. It’s not enough to know the direction to point people in.

A business phone system can ensure that people can easily get directed based on the nature of inquiry they have. It saves a lot of time internally, but it also increases customer satisfaction. How many times can you think about when terrible customer service caused you to cast a business in a worse light? That will happen to you if you don’t organize a better internal redirection system.

Is distraction a serious problem?

Prioritizing communication is just as important. There are different levels of urgency and importance to different requests. But without distinction, any request can distract an employee from the task they’re currently involved in when they might have better been left to it.

Using an internal color code to highlight the importance of requests, whether it’s through email or through internal support software, can ensure that employees are only being interrupted and distracted when it’s necessary or when they can spare the time (if it’s less necessary).

Image by TeroVesalainen

Are you open to employee ideas?

Helping employees communicate is just one step in fostering an environment where sharing knowledge is widely practiced. You have to make it clear that you and your managers are open to ideas. One way of doing that is leading by example.

A company newsletter can be a great way to share interesting ideas that aren’t quite important enough to feature in a team meeting, and they can be used to ask employees to contribute to them, as well. You should give them opportunities to come back with more knowledge, too. You probably can’t attend every industry event and conference yourself, so give the job to some of your employees and ask them to come back with some ideas.

Do you know how to communicate to the market?

Internal communication is essential, but you have to switch to a different track when you’re looking outside the business. The best way to do that is to better develop and understand your brand. You can create a brand guide that ensures you avoid using jargon in promotional material, memorize a voice for the business, and keep in mind the specifics of the audience you’re communicating with.

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Do you know how to listen?

Communicating with that target market isn’t just about making sure you’re understood. When it comes to the individual, it’s about making sure you understand, as well. If you’re in a rush to try and sell a client on your services, you might not really be listening to them. Leading the conversation and convincing them of the value of your business is one thing, but if they’re not contributing, or you’re not listening to their contributions, you’re not learning anything that could help you close the lead or improve the business.

Ask more leading questions. Get to know the specifics of their situation. Don’t immediately shoot down needs that your services don’t care to; try to think flexibly about them instead. Don’t diminish the importance of their needs in any way.

If you can answer all of the questions above in the positively, then your business communicates better than 99% of the others in the market. Communication is an on-going process and thus needs on-going fixes and examinations. It’s worth it, however, as every problem you solve wins you more time, more customers, and a happier, more engaged workplace.

Great Tools For Better Internal Communication

With the fast pace of business and media these days, it seems it’s harder than ever to get anyone’s attention. This applies not only to your marketing initiatives, but also the people who work for you. Without effective and reliable communication within your business, everything is going to suffer. Here, I’ve listed some of the most effective tactics for improving your internal communications.

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Credit: Pixabay

Use A Social Collaboration Platform

If you’re looking to improve communication within your business, one of the first things you should do is implement a social collaboration system, which will give your employees access to a single platform of communication. You’re probably already running a commercial phone system from a firm like Phonetel.

However, when it comes to sharing complex information and pieces of the work itself, you’re going to need something with more room for collaboration. With a social collaboration platform, you’ll be able to share important information seamlessly, and integrate it with your existing systems and software, allowing essential communications to happen when and where it’s needed, no matter what kind of device your employees are working on. It will also open up a great opportunity to bring together the data, processes and people needed for greater engagement through a much more convenient medium.

Provide Your Workers with Regular Feedback (Especially Younger Ones)

Younger workers, by which I mean Generation Y onwards, like to receive frequent and detailed feedback about the work they’re doing. Even your older workers, who may not care for specific pointers all that much, can benefit massively from it. If some of the people at your company are a little rudderless in terms of what they can be doing to be better workers, then this needs to change.

Start providing your workforce with a weekly status report, covering the projects they’re working on and the specific priorities within those projects. This should be followed by concise feedback from managers and higher-ups. By doing this, you’ll make your younger workers, and your staff as a whole, feel more empowered, and aware of how the work they do affects every facet of the business.

Create an Online Forum for Queries and Response

Online forums, especially if the company you’re running is fairly large, can be a hugely effective tool for better online communication. Today, there are many enterprise-based social networks, such as Yammer, which will give your workers an online platform where they can interact and engage with various different echelons of the company.

While the most straightforward function of this kind of communication is for workers to throw out questions and have them answered by colleagues with a little more expertise, there’s a lot more that an online forum can offer your business in terms of communication. Staff will be able to share documents and collaborate on projects throughout the network, whether their cubicles are right next to each other or they’re separated by several floors. This will break down your information silos, and make the whole company a melting pot of knowledge and experience.

 

 

A More Successful Blog Means Treating It Like A Business

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If you have a blog, but you want to make more of it, then there are some essential things you need to consider. The fact is, you can only get so far with your blog as long as you are thinking of it as ‘just a blog’. If you are looking for real, ongoing success, you need to instead think of it as more like a business.

Being business-minded with your blog means that you are more likely to see it become more and more successful – and what blogger doesn’t want that? Still, it is a good idea to take a look at the various things that you should consider.

If you are looking for ways to get your blog to be more popular and successful, then take a look at the following. Here are some essential aspects to bear in mind:

Planning

Ultimately, planning is one of the most difficult aspect of all – and one of the most important. With proper planning, it is much more likely that your blog business will flourish. If you do not plan, then you can’t be sure of where you intend to go. And from that, it is clear that your business is much less likely to enjoy the kind of success you hope for it.

When it comes to planning a blog, there is plenty to take on board to ensure you get it right. The most important thing here is that your plan is as detailed as possible. This is the key: detailed, clear steps towards ambitious, yet achievable, goals. Take a look at your blog as it currently stands. Chances are, you have a good groundwork to work form, but you need more substance. Or you could do with more followers.

If your blog is following a certain niche or topic, then look for other blogs in that same vein. Connect with them – but lay out how you are going to connect, and when.

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If you set yourself small goals along the way, you will find that you get a lot more done. You will also have a fuller sense of ongoing achievement – and this is important to keep you going. Another important part of planning is making preparations for the chance of anything going wrong. If other parts of your plan don’t work out, you need to know what you can do about that to improve the situation.

You might also find that mind-mapping is a great way to envisage the future of your blog. From this, you can then work out the logical steps towards achieving what you want to achieve. Take this stage seriously, and work at it diligently, and you will probably come away feeling ready and able to expand your blogging business into greater and greater success.

Branding

One of the most important parts of running a business is the branding, and this will be the same for your business too. When you are thinking about branding a blog, it is actually relatively straightforward to get it right. A brand needs to be a powerful, fix-all reminder of what your business stands for.

If you have developed a certain ‘voice’ or writing style which goes along with a specific personality, then this is essentially your brand. Work with this, and try to expand it into something a bit more concrete. Then it is just a matter of ensuring that you have real consistency with it. This means going through every bit of output and seeing whether it is brand-loyal. Even small details like the color of your header, and the design of the sites’ layout, need to come into consideration here.

When you send emails, does your signature give you away, or is it loyal to the brand? What about your comments style? You need to think about all of this if you are to get the branding right. With proper branding, your blog is much more likely to draw in greater and greater numbers of readers from all over the world. The point is: find a way of relating to people, and stick to it fully.

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Protection

All businesses need protecting from various threats which abound in the real world. You need to make sure you are doing everything in your power to protect your blogging business against such threats. As a blogger, one of your main concerns here is going to be the theft of your intellectual property. It is vital that you do everything you possibly can to protect your information and your content. Remember: as soon as you publish it, even online, it is legally your intellectual property.

If you see your work posted elsewhere, then you might be wondering what you can do. The truth is, you can actually take legal action against those people if you find your own work to have been stolen. A dmca service can help you to force them to take the stolen material down. This will often solve the issue, but first of all ask them and make sure it is just a genuine mistake. You need to protect your ideas and your writing if you are going to take your blog seriously as a business.

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Assistance

There is often the unconscious assumption that you can’t possibly take on any help. Something about the nature of blogging seems to suggest that it is to be done alone. However, this is nonsense. In fact, treating it as a business means that you should feel perfectly able to hire some help for your blog.

This can come in many forms, depending on what it is you need help with. Take a look at the idea of the human cloud to get you started here. This is the process of hiring virtual assistants and the like online. With this particularly new and unique form of outsourcing, you can pend much more of your time on the actual writing of the content, and less on the maintenance and admin of looking after the site. This alone could make all the difference.

Why Does a Post Go Viral? The Power of Social Media

Alex From Target: The Internet’s Newest Celebrity

Over the weekend, Buzzfeed posted an article about teenagers of the Internet making a picture go viral, causing Target worker Alex to become a trending topic on Twitter and other social media platforms. As of today, nearly 5pm in California, #alexfromtarget is still a top trending topic on Twitter. In fact, this kid’s Twitter account blew up overnight, and he now has 235K followers. People have even begun an Alex From Target fandom, writing fictional stories and making memes. Alex’s girlfriend gained masses of followers, not to mention death threats. Like, woah.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 17.10.04Image via Twitter.

How did it all start? With a tweeted picture of Alex from Target, taken by a teenage girl. Alex was apparently unaware of the photo being taken, and found out via social media that he had become an overnight sensation. According to Huffington Post, Target is thrilled about their employee’s new found fame, perhaps hoping that this will bring some good and much-needed exposure for the brand and store.

The Comment That Got Me Marriage Proposals

In August, I made a comment on one of my favorite Facebook fan page’s photos: Humans of New York. I not only happened to be one of the very first commenters (a lucky feat, since the page has over 10 million fans), but one of the top commenters as well. I made a comment about moving to Spain for the summer (the topic was related to the photo shared by HONY) and my Facebook account started blowing up.

The comment itself received hundreds of likes, nearly 100 comments, and just as many replies to comments. I received over 45 friend requests from around the world, and even more private messages than that. In fact, I got 3 or 4 marriage proposals, lots of guys telling me I was hot or had a nice smile, and others asking if we could be Internet friends. 

I did not accept any friend requests or reply to any private messages. Needless to say, I was floored by the response. My comment didn’t go viral like Alex from Target’s tweeted picture, but I certainly experienced my 5 minutes of Internet fame and wondered what it would be like to go viral.

How To Go Viral

SingleGrain.com has a great infographic that explains how you can create posts that will go viral. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee that following such methods will automatically make you go viral, but it definitely has some sound structure: 

Going Viral by SingleGrain

Going Viral by SingleGrain

This infographic is from just two years ago. And though its explanation of going viral is still very valid, 2014 has brought a wave of unexpected subjects going viral. (I would personally add Twitter to the mix of top sites to help your post go viral.) It’s all in the power of sharing. All it takes is a share here, and a share there, and if you believe in the 6 degrees of separation theory, then that’s how it goes viral. I mean, this whole Alex from Target thing is trending over voting, and that’s saying something. 

Why Things Go Viral

Why do we get excited over these trivial subjects versus important issues? Personally, I believe that we are constantly in search of escape. We are human beings, we are frail, we are shallow at times, and we want to be entertained. We want to make someone else the spectacle so that our lives can have a moment of taking the focus off ourselves and our problems. This is not the case or blanket answer/cause for everything and everyone, but it definitely plays a major role.

It’s like that saying: Any publicity is good publicity. Before, that mentality used to apply to only select individuals. But nowadays, in the social media world, it could possibly apply to YOU.

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As an author, I would love to go viral. To have that one blog post that transcends the ages and solves world hunger, homelessness, poverty, and bigotry. I’d love for people to buy my books and tell me I’m the sh*t. I want my Twitter following to blowup over night. I mean, I am nearing 7k, and that’s from like 2 years of hard work, building my following organically. But the chances of all that happening just with one book, or one tweet, or one pin on Pinterest are slim to none.

Or are they?

15 Minutes Of Fame

Let’s think for a moment: Alex from Target is going to have his spot in the limelight, just like I had my HONY comment celebrity moment for a day. Yes, it’s possible that Alex may have some amazing hidden talent and he’ll find an agent and continue his fame. But honestly, I think this Twitter debut, once it’s died down, may be the only time in his life where he’ll be Internet famous. It’ll be some cool story he can tell his grandkids one day. And by that time, they’ll probably be asking: What the hell is Twitter?

The Chances Of Becoming Famous

If you study the greats–be they musicians, artists, writers, professional athletes, whatever–their common thread is that the whole overnight success thing took years. It’s very, very rare to become famous in an instant. In fact, you can watch this fun video from BuzzFeed that shares some stats on the chances of becoming famous:

Is Overnight Fame Lasting?

Thanks to social media, some people’s chances of becoming famous, even for a moment, have gone way up. But overall, to achieve lasting fame–or better yet–to have a lasting, positive impact on society, it’s going to take some time. Those who put in the time, those who are consistent, are those who will be successful in their endeavors. In reality, the true overnight success thing is the result of years of hard work and consistency. 

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”
Anthony Robbins

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”
Jim Rohn

“Perfection of effort is not required, by the way. It is the consistency of attempting to work these tools that brings the progress. It’s like anything else. If I want to tone muscle, lifting a ten-pound weight a few times every day will move me toward my goal much quicker than hoisting a fifty-pound barbell once a week. Yes, it really is true: ‘Slow and steady wins the race.’ Just try a little, every day. You’ll see.”
Holly Mosier

“Success is an outcome of conscious choices pursued consistently and tirelessly.”
Vishwas Chavan

Now What?

Well… the best conclusion I have come to regarding all this is more realistic than ignorantly optimistic. If your aim is to have a career in which you become well-known through your work, etc., then consistency and commitment are the answers for you. That’s it; that’s the “magical formula” and it’s one of the hardest things one could ever do.

However, if that is not your aim, then just take a page from the handbook of Alex from Target: be reasonably attractive, work at Target, get some chick to take your picture and tweet it, then you can start trending on the Internet.

What do you think? Are you the next Alex from Target or are you thinking more long term? Leave a comment!