I was so pleased to have spoken at the In Practice law conference today in Hartford, CT. My co-presenter, Kirsten Lovett, and I presented a program called: “Repurposing with Rewards: A Guide to Creating Website and Social Media Content”. We had a fantastic room of attendees (who I hope walked away from the presentation with very applicable skills!) I am going to highlight just one of our slides in this post: How Content Helps You.
Creating and using informative, easy to understand content is crucial to see the results depicted in this graphic. From one single piece of content (press release, advisory, news item, sponsorship… you name it) you can stack up multiple touchpoints. Create a teaser sentence or two and you can use the same content on your website, blog, linked in, twitter and facebook pages. When you post your content on all of these platforms, you gain better visibility and improve the likeliness that someone will find you in an internet search. So, if you want to differentiate yourself, earn higher SEO ranking, be found easier, position yourself as a thought-leader, show you are current and be attractive to reporters as a resource…. try it. Take one piece of content and repurpose it in multiple places.
I was reminded of a very important, very underutilized tool this weekend… practice! Sure… the tool seems so simple, but it is so often overlooked. It became very clear to me in a recent encounter with my teenage son. He and some buddies made a golf date and needed to set up a tee time. So, he looked up the golf course and gave them a call. Then the most interesting thing happened. The person on the other end of the line picked up and my son’s mind went blank. He had a struggle getting his thoughts lined up to ask the questions he needed answers to. It all worked out and the other person figured out what he wanted and they booked their time together with that person’s help, but it was a little difficult to listen to! When he got off the phone, I asked him what happened. He told me his mind just went blank and he couldn’t get the words out straight. Can happen to anyone, right? It’s true. Any circumstance, any time. We talked about it and he told me that had he taken a second to think through what he needed to know, he could have formulated his thoughts ahead of time, resulting in an easier conversation. I would venture one more step… perhaps even speak through the questions out loud first, a ‘practice run’ of sorts.
So, what does this have to do with business development? A lot. Business development conversations can be difficult to begin with. Why not make them easier on yourself with a little pre-planning? Try this tip… before dialing the phone or seeing someone in person, ask yourself the following three questions:
- What do I want to learn from this conversation?
- How will I ask for the information?
- What follow-up questions may I have?
Next, study the answers and develop your message to the person on the receiving end. Your not quite done… practice delivering the message(s) you develop from the answers to those questions before making that call. This practice helps you have much smoother conversations. It will also help you gather the answers you need to make subsequent decisions. Build this into a habit and you will be a much more effective communicator in the long run. Practice really makes the difference!
In our electronically driven world, it is easy to lose sight of the strength of superb customer service. We talk in sound bites. Tweet in under 140 characters. Text in code. But what is this doing to our relationship skills? Are we short-changing ourselves by not practicing the basics of relationship building in our every day interactions?
The reality? There isn’t much choice but to participate in our ‘short-hand’ style world. But we do have a choice in how we treat people. Here are a few things to help keep your interpersonal skills limber.
- Make a good first impression. It is proven that first impressions matter. We get about 10 seconds to make our mark. Make sure you pay attention to how you present yourself. Make the recipient of your impression feel important and comfortable with a smile, positive body language and eye contact.
- Be appreciative of people. Take the time to thank people for their time in a meaningful and thoughtful way.
- Write thank you notes when you can. Whether you send your note by snail mail or electronically, make sure you make an effort to confirm your gratitude.
- Be helpful. Ask leading questions to help you to uncover what they really need from you and then fill that need.
- Be reasonable. Give people the benefit of the doubt and be trusting.
- Ask for feedback. Take a few minutes to ask people how they are doing and what they think about your services. Take their suggestions to heart and improve whenever possible.
- Do the small stuff. Take a minute to go the extra mile when answering a question, directing someone or assisting them with completing their task.
Taking a few minutes to slow down, ask questions and show thanks is really the foundation for any successful relationship. We live in a crazy paced world, but there is a true appreciation for solid customer service that ultimately builds long-term loyalty.