Business communication

Business communication

Anubhav Raina shares a convincing post on the power of influencing others.

Being able to influence someone on a key issue is the single greatest superpower you can have.

From convincing a client or boss to try out your idea, to being able to guide your family into seeing things your way.

Humans are influencing each other ALL the time, and similar tHow it started

I still remember the moment. I was 23 and had just found out what my division head’s year-end bonus was — a sum almost 10x my own bonus.

No one was surprised. It was expected and natural. I was told the discrepancy existed because the boss had “put in the time”, or “had taken more risk”, or “was rewarded for his expertise”, along with a number of other reasons.

But the question never stopped nagging me — what possible value-add could be worth 10x more than my own work?

Many people in my company seemed to have expertise and experience on their side. BUT they weren’t making the same money as my division head.o other activities –influencing is a skillset. In fact, it is one of the most useful skillsets you can learn.

Like many other behaviors, influencing too has a large evolutionary basis. We can use this knowledge to develop a gameplan for many situations that require influencing.

Building upon the work done in evolutionary sciences, psychology and management thinking, this short series sets a repeatable framework for building trust and convincing that will help you face each interaction with a solid plan of action!

 

Key points include:

  • CIF — Core Influence Framework
  • Building Trust
  • Convincing people

 

Read the full article, Influencing others: The greatest superpower you’ll ever need, on LinkedIn.

Jesse Jacoby explains how to define and communicate your concept of corporate culture. 

Ask 100 managers how they define organizational culture, and you’ll probably get as many different definitions as possible. Even scholars cannot agree; and that means that your definition is as appropriate as anyone else’s. This makes the challenge, however, of creating the culture that you want particularly difficult, because it is almost impossible to hit a target that is ambiguous.

How can you describe something abstract in concrete terms?

How do you say, “This is what I want,” when there is no this to point to?

And how do you say, “I don’t want that,” when you cannot point to it either?

At best, you can only identify parts of instances or results that please or displease you.

Perhaps that is the wrong way, or at least the less helpful way, to look at it.

Before you can decide what culture, you want, you need to consider the elephant in the room. The elephant is that culture, no matter how you define it, is touchy-feely. It is all about the people in your organization and their collective attitudes, expectations, and behavior. And so, whatever you want must be thought of in terms of what they do; how they’ll act and react collectively.

The easiest way to decide what culture you want is to start with someone else’s definition, and then add to it according to your needs.

For example, organizational culture has been described as a kind of personality. When you think about it like that, then you can delineate between the one in your organization and the one in someone else’s. You may not be able to identify all the differences exactly, but at least it will give you a starting point.

One characteristic might be the way your organization thinks or the assumptions that it makes. Another could be what people believe about its capabilities or weaknesses. Another could be the things that are important to them.

There will also be norms that define whether the rules, written or unwritten are followed, what to expect if they are, the consequences if they are not, and who makes them. All these things contribute to that elusive intangible called culture.

One study describes culture “as the emotional environment shared by members of the organization. It reflects how staff feel about themselves, about the people for whom and with whom they work, and about their jobs.”[1]

This sense of sharing is central to most definitions, and things such as expectations and attitudes create emotions.

 

Key points include:

  • Dealing with perceptions
  • The thoughts-feelings connections
  • Creating the culture you want

 

Read the full article, How to Create the Culture You Want, on EmergentConsultants.com.

Guillermo Herbozo shares a few key tips to ensure a positive outcome when conversing with a customer. 

Most conversations, whether you’re in sales, customer service, retention or any other customer facing position, start with a greeting. Then they move along until close and follow up.

Now, how often do you review the customer conversation practices in your organization to see how they can be improved? This post is an invitation to do precisely that. Its focus will be reviewing best practices on the start of the conversation.

Because of the different channels (e.g., call centers, retail, field), functions (e.g., sales, retention, customer service) and types of customers (e.g., B2B, B2C) it’s impossible to have just one solution. We will focus on a list of ideas to consider when defining how you’re going to open an inbound customer conversation. This is, an interaction where the customer came to us (called, walked in the store or approached us).

Let’s start with the goal. What is it we’re looking for in the first 20-30 seconds of the conversation? Start building a trust-based relationship that convinces the customer they have the right person and that persuades them to let you lead the conversation to get to the best outcome.

Now let’s dive in. How should you start a customer conversation to be successful?

 

Key points include:

  • Gaining control of the conversation
  • Responding to reactions
  • Gaining trust

 

Read the full article, How should you start a customer conversation to be successful?, on LinkedIn. 

David A. Fields explains how your consulting firm could benefit from his experiment with outreach.

There are people you’ve not talked with in years, and it’s a shame. They’re good people, you enjoyed your relationship with them, plus, reconnecting could help generate business for your consulting firm.

But if you’ve been out of touch for so long, is it really possible to renew the relationship? And if so, how, and is more than one bar of To’ak Art Series Blend required?

Any time you sort through your consulting firm’s network to identify your Network Core, you will find dozens (or hundreds or thousands) of previously strong, A- or B-level relationships that have slipped away.

You think, “Oh, I remember Jack! He was a client of our consulting firm years ago.” Or, “I wonder if Alicia is still the head of that trade association. We haven’t talked since the late ’90s.” Or, “Sarah… Sarah… Hold on. I forgot I had a sister!”

I’m no exception. Even though I’m a huge believer in the value of relationships, sometimes it’s hard to keep up and my consulting firm’s contact list harbors more than one A relationship I’ve inadvertently let dwindle.

Therefore, I decided to run a brief experiment on outreach to lapsed contacts.

Our Experiment

My assistant selected a slew of contacts with whom I’d had no contact for more than two years. How he selected these contacts is important, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

I sent a very brief outreach message to each one. The message is also important.

We tracked the response rate.

Because of the selection approach, we included contacts that are notoriously difficult to reach—such as an ex-client who rose to become the CEO of a large company and was too swamped to respond to me when he didn’t need our services.

 

Key points include:

  • Email vs. LinkedIn
  • The impact of revived connections
  • The relationship restarter email

 

Read the full post, How Your Consulting Firm Can Benefit From My Experiment With Outreach, on DavidAFields.com.

Barry Horwitz shares a few tips on how to improve communication between the front line and top executives when the organization is large, the problems are complex, and the stakeholders are diverse.

In her book, “Seeing Around Corners,” Rita McGrath notes that insights at the “edges” of an organization — close to the customers but far from the executive suite — can take a long time to reach the top of the food chain, if they get there at all.

This can be problematic for a number of reasons, but it’s particularly troublesome when it relates to the development of a strategic plan.

Here, communication in both directions between the front line and top executives is essential. Not only does this ensure that everyone feels engaged and part of the process, but it also uncovers critical information that may be otherwise overlooked, while limiting the likelihood of important stakeholders being surprised by the final plan.

All fine and good. But when the organization is large, the problems are complex, and the stakeholders are diverse, it may be easier said than done. It’s not like you can fit everyone into a conference room and hammer out a strategy over lunch. Under these circumstances, the “Town Hall” meeting format can be especially effective.

Direct Participation at All Levels

As the name suggests, the idea of a business Town Hall meeting originated in American politics as a way for political leaders — who were literally standing in a town hall — to speak to, and more importantly, hear from their constituents on current issues. During the Jack Welch era, General Electric was well known for using the concept to connect its senior executives to groups of employees for the same purpose.

I’ve used this approach as well in my work. For example, during the strategic planning process for a state university, we were able to successfully engage nearly 1,000 people using this format. This was an organization with many diverse stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, alumni, etc.), and the Town Hall gave participants a chance to have unfiltered, firsthand knowledge of what was being discussed and considered and, if they chose, to have direct input into the overall strategy.

But it does take some planning and an appreciation of the fact that these are not simply meetings to inform about decisions already made. To be most effective, they need to be interactive and informative, with senior leadership in particular genuinely open to feedback and input from all levels of the organization.

Key points include:

  • Setting the stage
  • Responding to challenges
  • Post-meeting input

 

Read the full article, How to Run a “Town Hall” Meeting, on HorwitzandCo.com.

 

While many struggle with switching the focus between work and home, Barry Horwitz has published a post that is the result of a family gathering inspiring how to avoid strategic planning mistakes. 

Many years ago, my mother initiated what has since become an annual family tradition.

When my father was about to reach his 70th birthday (he’s closing in on 90 now!), she decided we should gather siblings and families, and all spend a weekend together to celebrate. But where? What kind of place? There are thousands of options.

After some discussion, we agreed on two guiding criteria: It needed to be reachable by a reasonable drive, and we needed to be able to play tennis there. Over the years, that simple “vision” has remained, keeping us focused and narrowing the options greatly. This same kind of approach works well in developing a successful business strategy. It’s not everything, by any means. But by starting with a clear vision of what matters most to your organization, you, too, can greatly simplify the process on the way to achieving your goals.

Unfortunately, many organizations (despite best intentions) struggle in the development of their strategic plans. There are any number of underlying causes for this, but here are three that I come across most frequently.

  1. Not Enough Detail

I’ve often seen organizations start with a very broad vision statement — something that, in my family’s example earlier, would be similar to “a weekend family getaway.” While this does provide some idea of what is valued, there is not enough specificity to narrow the options and know whether or not you are headed in the right direction. (Volkswagen once stumbled in this way when it set out to become “the largest car company in the world.”)

So, there needs to be clarity on the key elements that constitute success.

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying and describing a few critical goals
  • The problem with the strategic plan ‘list’
  • The implementation of strategic work

 

Read the full article, Three Strategic Planning Mistakes To Avoid, on horwitzandco.com.

 

Are you failing to attract the talent you want at your company? Paul Millerd takes some time to analyze what does and doesn’t work on a company career page with examples taken from a review of 100 sites.

Why Stripe has the only good career page on the internet (okay maybe Costco too)

January 30th, 2021: Greetings from Taipei. It’s day 9 of our quarantine here in Taiwan. We were lucky enough to stay in Angie’s parents apartment so we’ve been able to walk in and out of different rooms to keep us occupied. Thank you to Arvind and Peter for becoming paid supporters of the newsletter and greetings to the 75 new subscribers, hitting the 3,500 subscriber mark.

This week’s picture features Angie’s rock painting creations, a hobby she picked up only a few months ago. Crazy!

#1 Stripe seems to be the only company that has put effort into their career page

This week I went through more than 100 career pages. It started because I have been writing about how our expectations of work have changed dramatically since I graduated in 2007. When I graduated careers pages were simply a listing of jobs available.

However, somewhere in the last 15 years things started to change. Companies started to market working at their companies and use language like “find your calling” or “do the most important work of your life.” AirBnB’s page tells people that they can “life their best life” at AirBnB.

This is a big shift and has led to a vicious cycle of increasing expectations and bolder language around what the company claims to offer. This is great except I’m not sure that most companies can guarantee that people will live their best life or do the most meaningful work of their careers. Most jobs, well, just aren’t all that exciting.

Someone suggested I walk through the Stripe site and explain why there site is so good. Here are five things they do:

 

Key points include:

  • Authenticity
  • User experience
  • Effective communication

 

Read the full article, The Career Page Crisis | #126, on Boundless.com.

 

 

Robbie Baxter shares valuable advice on how to build and manage a network in a comfortable and authentic way.

A few years ago, my sister asked me to co lead a workshop to help a group of her fellow psychologists build their professional network.

Here’s how she opened the event: “I know most of us really don’t like networking, and I’m glad you’re here anyway. For most of us networking is worse than a sharp stick in the eye”

I heard murmurs of agreement and saw heads bobbing up and down. These people hated networking. But I came to learn that a big part of it was how they defined networking and the approach they believed they had to use to build and nurture their networks.

I have come to learn that for many people, networking feels inauthentic and cheesy, and seems to take them away from the real work of helping clients and doing the work.

And yet, your network can be a tremendously powerful tool in “doing the work” and your investment in building your network can be among the most authentic and meaningful parts of your day.

In my work building engaged communities and forever transactions for all kinds of organizations, I have spent a lot of time teaching people how to build their networks in an ethical and comfortable way.

Here are some tips that can help you build yours!

 

Key points include:

  • Communication tips
  • Strategies for segmentation 
  • Developing opportunities

 

Read the full article, 30 Days to a Stronger Network in 2021, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Amanda Setili asks us to think about how interaction with clients has changed and what expectations will be in the years ahead.

Imagine that it’s three years in the future, in 2024. Largely gone are the days of flying somewhere to meet with a customer for an hour or two. Customer expectations have changed dramatically; they want substance more than just a few hours together.

Instead of a social call, customers in 2024 want substantive gatherings of talent. For example, they value it when you can set up a virtual gathering between your customer, an engineer in California, a SME in New York, and an entrepreneur in Germany.

The way things are done in 2024 are a direct result of everyone going virtual in 2020, plus three years of effort to make virtual gatherings substantively better, rather than just socially distant. It’s become far easier to share data, see and interact with other people, swap ideas, break out into small groups, and even to look the other person in the eye.

No one—myself included—can accurately predict all the innovations likely to take place over the next three years, but I’m pretty certain that many will combine to make virtual gatherings far more effective.

 

Key points include:

  • New skills and perspectives
  • Changing expectations
  • Changing operations

 

Read the full article, How Will You Interact with Customers in 2024?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Belinda Li shares an article that explores the meaning of ‘social’ in social enterprise.

When I tell people our consulting firm has a passion for helping social enterprises, I’m sometimes met with the question, ‘what do you mean by social enterprise?’

Or I might get a knowing look, yet the response is, ‘oh, so you do social media!’ or ‘oh, so it’s about social networking!’ Hmm…

I suppose that’s not totally unexpected. After all, not many people know about ‘social enterprise.’ And today, the word ‘social’ is frequently associated with ‘social media / social networking.’ At a recent event hosted by a social media firm, they said things like: ‘today we are all things social’ or ‘everything is social now!’ When substituting ‘social’ for ‘social media,’ everyone understood what they meant. The confusion is further exacerbated by articles such as this one. You’ll see it has ‘creating a social enterprise’ in its title… and yet the article is all about social media!”

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • What a social enterprise is
  • How social enterprises differ from most businesses
  • Examples of social enterprise

 

Read the full article, When “Social” Means More, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Azim Nagree explains which methods of communication work best during a pandemic and why. 

When companies ask me how to accelerate sales or improve retention, I tell them a story. I needed to purchase a sign for my wife’s French pastry shop. I spoke with the front desk clerk who said that it would be around $90. A few days later, I got the final quote from the sales person – $265. And with that, I was out. The sales person lost the deal. But to their credit, they called me (instead of emailing me again). Within 5 minutes, the misunderstanding was resolved and the deal was closed.

Pre-Corona, reps gravitated towards email and/or Slack and/or text. Post-Corona, video conferencing is all the rage. But the reality is that savvy sales people will use a combination of different channels to move a prospect through the funnel to close.

So when do you use the phone vs email?

 

The main points of this article are:

  • Clarifying communication needs
  • Identifying customer needs
  • Confirming details

 

Read the full article, Use the phone to accelerate sales, on LinkedIn.

 

 

If you have ever wondered why your messaging is misconstrued or find that you lapse into cliches at meetings, help is at hand. Bernie Heine identifies what not to say, why not, and what to say instead. 

Two Must-Do Guidelines and Five Clichés to Avoid.

Strategic Review or any meeting

Your strategic review is a rare opportunity to take an objective overview perspective on your business. It is a time for questioning assumptions and a space in which to encourage creativity and involvement. It is not a place for rigid thinking or hackneyed business phrases. In the ideal business world, all meetings should accomplish one or more of four things. They should 1) Generate new ideas to add value. 2) Share information. 3) Build a common purpose and buy-in. 4) Plan what to do to solve current problems and roadblocks.

At your strategic timeout, you should focus on things 1 to 3 with these two goals in mind…

  1. Doing better before doing cheaper. 

“Miracle worker” businesses consistently search for ideas to compete on factors other than price. See our newsletter 3 Rules for Exceptional Business Performance or the video below. 

Typical factors, other than price, that take your business to exceptional profit are durability, functionality, brand, style, etc. Your customers don’t see it on the invoice, but they really appreciate getting it.

  1. Revenue before costs.

 Cutting costs and or shedding assets are too often the default paths taken by “average Joe” businesses. At your strategic review, be sure to put revenue first. In the long run, “miracle worker” businesses can charge premium prices while giving greater apparent value to custom.

 

Phrases identified in this article include:

  • Don’t bring me problems. I want solutions!
  • I’ll get back to you on that.
  • In my opinion…
  • Keep doing what you’re doing.
  • We need to think outside the box

 

Read the full post, Five Things NOT to Say at Your Strategic Review (or at any meeting), on the The Professional Business Coaches website.