Current business practices and modern technological tools are helping pave the way for smoother and more direct business conversations. Those directly apply to collaboration, networking and business outreach, as well as some tools and practices that are overhauling how we conduct our business conversations (both within and outside of our organizations).
What policies no longer works or shouldn't work
When we talk about business, it is a field that was gilded with lots of protocols and red-tapism. I remember the first time a started working in a corporate firm, there was a beeline to my CEO's office. It wasn’t a physical line per se, it was more a, "I am way down on the food chain to be even talking to this guy" line.
And this was very weird because I worked in the research department and I was literally seeing my CEO every month – he was an avid reader and would sometimes send over a book or two for us to read (I loved that) but the management, kept me at an arm’s length because it was necessary protocol. I resented that and the toxicity of this all drove me to quit one day. I went to another organization without saying a thank you or a goodbye to someone I now consider a mentor.
A few years later, I reached out to him, thanked him for the book he shared and sent him an e-book of my own (notes and all). Surprisingly, he wrote back, thanked me and asked me where I was in life. Now I reach out to him on occasions (so as to not take up a lot of his time) and ask him for his advice on business matters or share a few of the articles I’ve written or read. He is kind enough to reply, whenever he can – and for me, that is enough.
If it is relevant, and if there is a benefit to a certain communication, no one should have the authority to restrict it. Though I do not condone stepping out of line, I do encourage people to speak their minds and let their opinions be heard.
For a lot of you who might be in parts of the world where communication is now open and transparent, you may not be able to relate. But talk to any of your friends in other parts of the world. Being stuck in the beeline/waiting to be heard is still a major factor in a breakdown in communications, project-lag, organizational inefficiency, etc.
For business owners, the message here is, build an environment of trust, of openness/candor. People want to be heard, give them the tools and opportunities to do so and they will carry you well.
Business communication protocols
Let’s talk about business practices that have been around for a while; like still using thank you's and best wishes in emails. You should still be following traditional hierarchy’s and age-old communication protocols. The entire perspective of business communication has become very mundane and kind of like a swan dance.
I remember receiving an email from a client I barely knew who ended it on ‘With the warmest of regards,' first of all, I am not a bowl of warm porridge and second “Cringe”. Though the intention is to be courteous, business communications need to be straight forward. It shouldn’t start with a “Dearest” and end at its “Kindest”. A lot of people may disagree with me over this but the objective is to keep things simple, straightforward and professional. To help spice up your mundane emails to clients/customers something as simple as an email signature generator might be helpful in increasing your response and engagement rates.
Businesses are disrupting the way we talk to clients (Like how brands are now calling out people on social media) keeping in line with modern work (respectful and direct) there is company’’ that are moving past legacy structures to build a presence across channels.
Your internal and external communication needs to be smart; it needs to resonate with respect to your brand narrative. If there is a disconnect with respect to its communication across any platform it leads to a loss in terms of your brand positioning and on repeated offense a deterioration of your brand equity.
How to drive conversions using technological tools
Taking our conversation forward, the issues highlighted above are pretty fixable, both from a cultural perspective and more importantly through the introduction of technology tools/solutions.
So, here are a few websites/tools that I recommend that can really help you up to your organizational, startup business, consultancy, etc. grow:
- Slack is my go-to platform for keeping conversations flowing and visible. A cloud-based instant messaging platform that helps keep people collaborate, streamline their conversations across all their platforms and devices. The best thing about Slack is that it opens up your organization like a social media platform, but is more efficient and engaging. Using Slack, you can give employees the space to be expressive with their ideas and help open up your digital doors to their queries/concerns
- Another tool I really like and one that is very efficient in streamlining and (through useful analytics) monitoring your email campaign performance is MailChimp. A useful marketing platform with prebuilt email templates and helpful analytics, MailChimp will help you review and measure the performance of each email campaign that leaves your mailboxes.
- Webex is a multipurpose tool by Cisco and that’s its beauty. It can be used by a variety of organizations for online meetings, team collaborations, trainings and webinars, etc.
Business has a lot to do with respect to its presentation, organizations spend big bucks to stay top of mind and tip of tongue. As of now, technology has evolved to the extent that it can help us simplify business conversations (both internally and externally) and in-turn helps us enhance and evolve our corporate image.
With respect to evolving business practices that you feel are outdated, it is a good bet to identify your problem statement and research tools and technologies that can help you voice your message better.
There are no clear-bets to what works in business and work doesn’t a lot of us make the rules up as we go along. These are my own learnings and as such I invite you all to be experimentative in how you carry your own flags forward.