Is it just me, or does anybody else get frustrated with the state of business communication? I am convinced it has to do with new technology and a resulting informality of how we communicate.
Don't get me wrong; I appreciate e-mail, texting, and social media as much as anyone. However, I don't think that using these great resources should be a license to forego common courtesies, protocols, and a professional manner.
Here are a few of my communication pet peeves.
I hope that this hasn't become our new normal, but even if it has, think of your chance to stand out from the crowd by not being a part of that new norm. I can tell you that, for me, someone with great writing/communication skills stands out from the crowd and gets my attention in a very positive manner.
As much as I try not to, I realize I am guilty from time to time. I really do try to catch myself. But, if you catch me in violation, please point it out to me. But do so in a kind, gentle, trying-to-help-you-out kind of approach. A nasty, mean-spirited email will just result in a quick delete.
Photo by Anne-Lise Heinrichs.
We have spent quite a bit of time in this space talking about how you establish the brand you want. A big part of the brand revolves around the things you need to be talking about and where you need to be talking about them. What you also need to consider and be equally aware of is how much what you don’t say affects your brand, as well.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems the general rules of professionalism and communication protocol have become very loose, or abandoned altogether. All too frequently, I experience the following:
When I experience these behaviors, it tells me a lot about the individual; it tells me that they are unorganized, less than professional, and lacking the confidence to state a position. It influences the “brand” I assign to them.
I realize that most of the time, this probably isn’t a true reflection of who they are, at least all of the time. I’m sure that in their minds they would never behave this way when “it really matters” for them (like with clients). However, I would caution though that they are on a slippery slope. Bad behaviors have a way of becoming bad habits and habits become who we truly are.
I’m sure that most of them also excuse their own behavior because they witness it in others around them and believe, therefore, it must be a new acceptable standard. If that’s true, it’s very sad commentary on our general state of professionalism.
If this lack of professional courtesy in communication is the new standard, think about how strong your brand could be by comparison if you are the exception who:
Photo by humboldthead.
New talent – every industry needs to have a steady flow of new people and ideas joining their ranks in order to stay current with client needs, industry and cultural trends, and technology. Which are all rapidly changing business practices.
As Kevin talked about recently in his “Wander On In” post, finding that young talent is essential to the survival of the industry. And something critical that these new folks are bringing with them is their fresh perspective on business and their comfort with technology.
These two ideas combine make a very powerful new business tool from which we, as established business professionals, need to take a lesson.
Whether purposefully getting into the industry or wandering into it by accident, these young professionals are bringing their new ideas about business with them. And they are either joining our teams or the competitors’ teams. Regardless of which team they join, they are changing the rules of the game. And everyone who wants to continue playing the game has got to learn these new rules and start playing by them too.
I recently spoke with a group of university students who have formed a professional women’s organization and are actively recruiting business community members to help prepare them for their careers. One of the things that struck me as awe-inspiring about these students (besides their obvious initiative) was the understanding they had of the distinction between a personal and professional presence (both in-person & online), and how they are actively pursuing the professional because they understand the importance of it. It’s so important, in fact, that the university is offering free courses to its students to help them develop a professional online presence.
Even though these students have likely grown up having Facebook accounts for connecting with friends, these women all had very well-done LinkedIn profiles that put to shame most experienced professional profiles I see.
Granted, there is college and internship information filling in these profiles right now, but these women get it. They know how to present themselves in a professional manner and they have yet to even graduate. When they do graduate, they are going to Wow! their future employers and intimidate their competition right from the starting line.
As seasoned professionals, it’s our choice to jump in and learn these new rules – and help make some new rules of our own, or wait for the competition (internal or external) to overtake us and render us irrelevant.
We recommend that every agency owner, manager, and producer maintain a complete and up-to-date profile on LinkedIn. It’s a minimum expectation of any business professional.