Good communication is obviously important for any business, but where should you start when you’re trying to improve it? These five strategies will give your business communication a boost and may well help productivity overall. The first two are focused on internal communication and the final three on external communication.
1. Have A Strategy
It sounds simple, but it’s where you need to start. Think about communication, what it’s for, and how it works. Whether your communication strategy is short or long will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish, but it should involve these steps somewhere along the way:
- Know what you need—Before any work starts, make sure you understand the problem you’re trying to solve and make sure the members of your team do too. They need to get why the strategy exists in the first place to avoid wasted time.
- Collaborate on strategy—You should involve other people while you’re planning your strategy. When you get input from more people, the result will likely be better.
- Know who you’re talking to—This will come up again below regarding external communication, but it matters internally too. You need to know this to make sure what you’re planning will work.
- Articulate your objectives—A clear set of objectives is key. Focus and clarity are both easier to achieve when everyone involved understands what the overall aim of the strategy is.
- Make sure to evaluate—At the end of any process, you need to build in a step to determine if what you tried worked. If it didn’t, you can work out what went wrong and address it. If it did, you could still try to find new ways to improve things going forward.
2. Update Your Tools
Along with having a strategy, you should check that you have the best tools for the job at hand and make sure you aren’t leaving opportunities to modernize on the table. Take an internet faxing service as an example.
While “faxes” may sound very 1990s, they’re still used for plenty of business communication. There are benefits, though, to switching to an online provider from your old machine. For instance, one provider, MyFax, lets you:
- Send faxes by email.
- Select a new number from a range of options (local, toll-free or international).
- Port your old number to the service.
- Access an archive of all your faxes online for the life of your account.
- Reduce your environmental impact.
3. Research Your Target Audience
When it comes to external communication, and especially communicating with customers, this is step one. Any communications strategy or plan you develop won’t make much sense if it’s designed in a vacuum. You need to know who you’re trying to reach.
Look for the platforms that have users on them you want to reach. Is it Facebook? Twitter? Maybe it will turn out to be trade shows or other in-person or virtual events. Once you’ve identified the people you need to speak to, you can develop an effective strategy for how you’ll do it.
4. Look Online
Figure out what online communication methods will work best for you and invest in them. That could be social media, depending on your audience. The best bet here is to provide people with useful, interesting content, and listen and respond to the needs of your audience. You should also make sure that there’s a bit of personality behind what your company puts out into the world.
You could also consider blogging or publishing content more regularly. This can be another avenue to engage in conversation with others in your industry and establish your own profile. The key here, again, is to provide useful content that readers will find worthwhile. You could share stories of successes or of challenging circumstances and what you learned working through them.
5. Look Offline Too
Don’t neglect “offline” opportunities for business communication either. If there are networking opportunities in your area, take advantage of them. If those events have moved online, for the time being, try to stay involved in those spaces.
Here’s some advice on making the most of these opportunities:
- Stay in your lane—It pays to stretch yourself and be creative, but make sure you build a network in spaces where you feel you have some expertise and something to contribute. This will also make it more likely that there are potential clients for you to meet.
- Go solo—If you’re on your own at an event, you’ll be more likely to talk with more people, which will help get you where you want to be.
- Be confident—Making the first conversational “move,” instead of waiting to be approached all the time, will help you meet more people. If you’re nervous or don’t want to appear too pushy, you might consider joining a bigger group. It’s much easier than joining two people having a conversation on their own.
Moving beyond networking, you should also consider speaking at events. As a speaker, you can share your expertise, build a profile, and gain credibility in your field. This will help bring in potential clients, of course, but it can also provide you with ways to build relationships with others in your field. Plus, it makes it easier to network at an event if more people are familiar with you, your business, and what you do.
Whether you’re looking to improve your business communication strategy internally or externally, the tips above provide some places to start. There’s always more to learn, though, so keep looking for resources that can help provide you with more ideas.
Whenever you’re making a change to your strategy, be sure to tell your team members, partners, or employees, why you’re doing it. Being clear about your goals and how the new approach your taking will help achieve them makes it much easier for the people around you to help. Be ready for input, and listen actively, and then always be ready to evaluate how things are going. And always, keep seeking out new ideas, and don’t be afraid to try them if you think they might make a positive impact.