Recently I was sending an email and used C/F instead of Chelmsford. The recipient said that she had taken some thought to work out what it meant. Fortunately, I know the person well but imagine if I hadn’t and had caused her this inconvenience. I think we all use “shorthand”, usually work based, and assume people understand, but the reality is that we are potentially building barriers, and this doesn’t help with building relationships. Because communicating well is one way we build relationships.
This applies to not only how we communicate verbally but also in writing, and particularly how we communicate on our website. I can’t tell you7 the number of times I’ve gone to look at someone’s website and come away no better informed than when I started about what they do. Management speak, buzz words (Some of which never seem to disappear and are still incomprehensible to outsiders), and industry specific phrases which people outside that particular industry don’t come across. My C/F for example is Post Office shorthand which I last used professionally 25 years ago.
Yes people can ask, query, question but how many do? Most just move on to someone else, another person, another supplier, and we might be the person who could have been that supplier. What to do? My solution for long pieces of communication (Websites, policies, strategy reports) is to get someone to write it who does that professionally, for shorter pieces (Blog) is to get to someone outside my industry and ask them to read it. I ask the questions 1. Is it worth reading and 2. Do they understand what I am trying to communicate? Unfortunately, when communicating by, say, emails or when talking this separate check is impossible or would be too unwieldy. So, I try to be aware of talking in code but as my recent contact proved, I sometimes get it wrong.
What are your thoughts?
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At the beginning of the year I was talking to a business contact about why his networking seemed to have stopped being so effective. He thought it was because people felt they couldn’t spend money because we are living in uncertain times or, he said, it might be because he was not meeting people face-to-face. So we started to talk in more depth because, he said, things were really not going well and they had been going very well.
The first question I asked was, had anything changed with his marketing? Well, of course, we were no longer allowed to meet face-to-face, but I know many people who had flourished despite having to use virtual meetings. So, not being able to meet face-to-face couldn’t be the problem, or at least not all of the problem. I also know many companies who have managed to maintain, and even grow, their business throughout the difficult times we have been living through. So, there is money out there that people want, or need, to spend.
Then he said “I really don’t like networking at virtual meetings”. (I’ve paraphrased a long monologue that he needed to get off his chest about what he really didn’t like about virtual meetings). Some of the things he mentioned are covered in my blog “Would you do that if we were meeting face to face?”
The main thing that came out was that he was networking less, so he was not meeting new contacts, and he was not nurturing those contacts he had made before March 2020. So we made a plan (I love a plan). We looked at what had happened to those networking events he used to attend and, for those which had started meeting virtually, we developed a diary of events he could attend. We also looked at what events were now available virtually and added them to his diary. He decided he would start by attending two or three a week. Finally, he decided to set aside half an hour a day for getting in touch with people he had lost touch with, to renew and develop the contacts he had worked hard to nurture. He actually made a promise to himself to do all this because, as he said ”I never break a promise.”
Every couple of weeks we would have a quick catch-up telephone chat, and guess what? Money is coming in! The reason it worked? Because you have to work at networking and keep working at it, otherwise it doesn’t work.
If you want more networking tips go to: Top 20 networking tips or get in touch if you would like me to work with you to improve your networking.