As we cross the 1 year anniversary for COVID-19 Lockdown, I thought the timing was right to talk about how business communication has shifted dramatically in the last year. Like many, I’ve been in a massive transformative period with my work life, and find myself having to continuously react to the ongoing pandemic. Fortunately, we’ve lived in the Digital/Information Era for some time now, which has eased this global transition due to existing computer/internet infrastructure, increasingly high internet bandwidth, an onslaught of other digital aids. Now that our communication methods have been utterly disrupted in perpetuity, I wanted to jump on and write about various ways I’ve adapted to my environment, and ideas for you to do the same. Although I’m in a sales-oriented position, these tips can apply to virtually any role in which you are communicating with other organizations, individuals, etc. Whether you’re amidst your long-term professional career, or in school/about to graduate or are simply looking for work I hope these tips bring value to you!
LinkedIn is your Best Friend - By far, LinkedIn is one of the most powerful platforms for professionals looking to connect with a majority of the global workforce. With nearly half a billion active users, it’s astonishing you can reach out (virtually) to almost any person imaginable in the professional world. While data may sometimes be out of date, the bulk population of young (and old) professionals today have a LinkedIn profile with their current organization of employment, education, skills, talents, etc. You can use this tool (LinkedIn) to understand the structure of companies, different roles they may be hiring for, and be able to directly reach out to various stakeholders within the company...all for free. By far, LinkedIn is still such an under-valued asset to leverage in so many different ways, and no, LinkedIn did not pay me to write this!
Leverage your company’s instant messaging - Now, I’ll preface this in saying that this is heavily reliant on having a team who is attentive to their instant messaging platform (Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.). Oftentimes in customer meetings there would be questions that arise, to which, I wouldn’t know the answer to. In this situation, I could fire off an instant message to one of my team members to obtain an answer on the spot. Other times, I can have a back-and-forth live, with a customer on the phone, and get their answer in real time. This is a tremendous way to both build rapport with your customer, but also take care of the ancillary/answer-getting work right then and there.
Making use of the phone - While some companies have been slow to migrate phone systems over, you’d be surprised how many have made progress in this area. There still is a good chunk of people who are almost impossible to reach by phone, but using tools like www.rocketreach.co can prove to be handy for finding a contact’s direct/mobile line. It’s definitely more difficult to reach people now over the phone, but a person-to-person phone conversation is still a tried & true way of making a sincere connection with the person/organization you’re trying to communicate with. Try using tools like “ZoomInfo'' or “Manta” to quickly locate the phone number for various companies, or more traditional tools suchas Google or LinkedIn are just a few places to look when you’re searching for the phone number of a specific person.
Network outreach - Now that we have plenty of screen time in our current WFH environments, it is a great idea to follow up with all parts of your network. A simple “was thinking of you, know we haven’t talked lately, how are things going?”-kind of email can spark conversations with virtually any person in your own circle. Be the first to reach out to someone, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a reply immediately! As long as you don’t proceed to spew a sales pitch and merely check in, and see what people need...you’d be surprised at the response rate you’ll receive.
Developing engaging digital content - Whether it’s a “Life Update” video post, a subtle textual & rich media post on LinkedIn, or even short “How-To” videos on Tik Tok….now is a terrific opportunity to break out of your comfort zone and try different types of media. For me, textual content & communication is my comfort zone, so I’ve tried branching out and doing different video content pieces, illustrative blogs, and other forms of content besides text. Marketing yourself, or your business doesn’t have to be boring and tedious, try to produce consistent, relevant content that is centric to your own personal brand.
Hosting casual, industry-centric networking events (virtually) - Since we now have the power to host virtual meetings, “happy hour”-type meetups can be a great way to get some of your audience members together in one room. If you aren’t comfortable hosting, consider looking through LinkedIn, Eventbrite, or MeetUp for groups related to your particular interests. If you’re hosting, the key here is to not turn this into a flat out sales pitch, but moreso have a time to connect with teammates, colleagues, and potential customers in a friendly & nonchalant manner. Make sure to have your cameras on for these calls too, it helps put a name to a face, and ensures to your listeners that you are truly present!
Experiment!!! - The final notion brings it all full circle, in that, you should test/experiment these ideas to see what works best for you. If you are a naturally creative person, working on new, engaging forms of digital media could be beneficial. If you are more introverted, like me, you might find LinkedIn to be a helpful tool in reaching out to a broader network...but you will never know until you get out there and try!
Being sincere, concise, and open to presenting valuable information to your recipient are among some of the crucials factors you should consider in your outreach. People are busy, and our rapidly shrinking attention spans means that they probably won’t read & interpret a massive wall of text. The “bigger” the title (CEO’s, VP’s, Director’s, etc.) of the individual you’re reaching out to, the shorter and more direct your messaging should be. All of these are suggestions on ways to create an engaging and meaningful conversation with an individual, team within an organization, or an entire corporate entity as a whole. Don’t be afraid to experiment different methods, and never be afraid to say hello to someone, even if it’s a simple InMail message on LinkedIn. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas you’d like to send to me, please do reach out! :) www.makingmadesimple.com/blog