The Key to Successful Business Communication: Connection

people laughingI utilize a certain platform that is a wonderful tool for my business. I like this platform, we have a good relationship. It allows me to do many things and it provides great benefits for me. We are in a happy, compatible relationship.

The other day I had a question about finding certain information so I dutifully filled out an inquiry and waited.

I received an automatic response that they had received my “request”. Ok, good, we’ve got the party started.

A couple of days later I received a response:

“Hi Lisa K McDonald,

Thanks for your feedback about___ REFERENCE_SPECIFIC_FEEDBACK___. At this time we don’t have this functionality available. However, I’ve sent your suggestion on to our product team for consideration…. In the future, you can send suggestions by clicking any “Feedback” link”

The party was over, and it was a very disappointing party. No snacks, no games, no fun and more than anything – no connection.

What this message said to me was several things:

1. My message was not read
2. The person responding did not even care enough about their audience to remove the guideline for using a template (the “___ REFERENCE _ SPECIFIC _ FEEDBACK ___.” Included in the note)
3. By the above line, my inquiry was neither important or relevant to them which in turn leads me to believe that my suggestion was not sent to a product team for consideration
4. They have a preferred method for ignoring my inquiries – a “feedback” link, which I am going to take a leap here and guess it gets the same personal attention that the inquiry did
I am not going to break up with this platform; however, I am feeling less connected, less appreciated and wondering how many other inquiries it is seeing out there left unfulfilled. I feel like a number, I no longer feel special.

They were selfish. They did not think about me, not even taking the time to eliminate the script from a preplanned response. They can dutifully check off their list that they responded without any consideration to what was actually in the inquiry.

Too often, we become selfish in our business communication, in our connections. This crosses all platforms: whether you are attempting to connect with a client, prospect or potential employer. We focus on checking off things from our to-do list rather than actually connecting.

It leaves the party on the other end left unfulfilled, unappreciated, brushed off and with the sense that you just do not care.

Take a moment in your business communication to be human. Add a personal touch to make sure the receiver feels the connection.

Prospective Employers

Whether it be cover letters or thank you letters add that personal touch. In your cover letters tell them why you want the job, why you are the most qualified and demonstrate your desire by aligning it with the organization or the job specifically.

As your resume should be tweaked for each position for which you apply, so should your cover letter. One size does not fit all. You do not need to recreate the wheel only change certain elements to speak directly to the person reading the letter.

For your thank you letter, capitalize on the positive aspects of your meeting. Do not mention any faux pas – why remind them of the negatives? Reemphasize points during the conversation that you felt were direct connection points, things you agreed upon, how your experience is exactly what they need – anything that prolongs that good feeling within the meeting.

Prospects

Templates and automatic responses are great and a huge time saver, just do yourself a favor and personalize them and test them. Make sure the auto-fill fields actually work. If you utilize a catchall connection option – i.e. feedback, questions, inquiries, suggestions etc. – then perhaps a one size fits all response is not the way to go.

A good practice to use in networking is to send a follow up communication. This could be a connection request on LinkedIn or a personal email. When you send these out remember to mention something that you discussed, the event you attended or how you were introduced. Give them something to jar their memory, make it personal and remember you in a positive way.

The connection request on LinkedIn could be as simple as, “It was great meeting you this morning at the XYZ event, I really enjoyed hearing about how you do ABC for your clients.”

One trick to help you make these notes personal is to take notes. When someone gives me their business cards I jot down notes on it. If it is a long conversation, I will ask them if they mind if I make a note on their card. If it is a shorter conversation, I do so after speaking with them. This way, when I get back to the office and have a stack of 20 business cards, I know what to include for each message.

Clients

Sometimes you do not have the most current skinny on your own clients so you need to enlist help. When I was in the financial industry it was common for the bulk of the communication to be directed by Assistants. The smartest advisors would take a few minutes to let their assistant know they were writing a quick note to a client and ask what is new or going on with them.

Take time to talk to your clients, they are not your consumers, they are your lifeblood. They matter. The best companies really utilize CRM systems and add notes, not just product or project notes, but snippets about the clients on a personal level to be able to include in communication and build stronger relationships.

Put yourself in the place of the person to whom you are writing. Would you like the communication? Would you feel like you were connected? Is there a connection or is it a Dear John letter? Taking an extra few seconds on the front end can pay major dividends in the long run.

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