I think it fair to say a lot business is moving away from the one to one conversation that used to happen before the internet boomed in the late 80’s. The world we live in is fast moving and people time is important, even when I talk to local businesses these days the easiest way to get everything across is electronically. These days it’s possible to deliver a presentation to a client in London in the morning, sell a product to a customer in Glasgow in the afternoon and end the day with some fish and chips on the British seaside at Blackpool– all thanks to innovative global technologies that allow businesses to be run from any place with an Internet connection. For me, making business decisions from home in Longridge , a relatively rural location in the Lancashire, has meant embracing different ways of communicating. Today, any successful company must do the same. Personally, I still prefer having meetings in person. People send out so many clues and you can learn so much from eye contact, body language and conversational tone (the appropriate tone, after all, doesn’t always come across in virtual conversations). When it comes to business partnerships, if you have the opportunity to first establish a personal, face-to-face connection, go for it. Then when you follow up online, you’ll have a foundation for a good relationship. Using different platforms for communicating is important for nurturing modern business alliances, as is the ability to have an open mind in order to welcome new ideas. It’s important to remember that learning from different cultures and regions can give your business a huge advantage — the more varied the environment, the more good ideas your team is likely to come up with, which can mean more options for your customers. At Accede IT, for example, we’re always using different means of communicating in order to encourage customers around the UK to collaborate and innovate.
One way we do this is by using Google Hangouts. This popular on-line video platform makes it possible to see and hear who is talking in a group, and it allows for a wide on-screen display, which is tough to do on the screen of a smartphone, and impossible to do with email. The platform is particularly good for sharing ideas. It’s a fantastic, real-time way for our team at Accede IT and various customers and partners to learn from each other.
For quick catch-ups throughout the day, we also use Skype, another handy video tool. Skype is quicker and more informal than email, and I have found that having chats through video allows people to loosen up and relax. You can also have a telephone number associated with skype so you can take calls on the move. This is important – making sure that your working relationships with partners is stress-free and friendly is key to the success of a business. Remember that the best meetings, regardless of format, consist simply of people talking to each other, and regular video chats can act as a good alternative to in-person contact. When you’re working on a project with someone you can’t chat with on a regular basis, a different type of communication is in order. One relatively cheap tool that many entrepreneurs use is Evernote, a project management application that allows everyone working on a particular task to see what jobs need to be completed. Evernote is a good way to track the progress of assignments and to make sure that your team is on target for the next product launch or promotion. But while new technologies have made it easier than ever to keep in touch and nurture long-lasting business relationships, we shouldn’t forget the old methods. For example, I am still a huge advocate of writing personal letters – taking the extra effort to say thank you in ink after sealing a business deal, holding an event or making a new connection goes a long way. It shows genuine appreciation and respect.