I’ve long been a critic of what smartphones and social media have done to derail authentic communication. I haven’t changed my mind, but I do want to offer a few thoughts on how these tools can be used, and used to build your business, smartly.
Of course, everyone has a smartphone, but the idea during the business day is to use it as a tool to make your business grow, and at the very least, help you prevent losing business. So what do I approve of and how do I find the phone useful?
Calendars, of course, keep you on track. That’s smart. What’s smarter is scheduling out your day, every day, with appointments for sure, but also tasks that beforehand you never seem to have time for. You also have the option to add alarms or alerts to remind you when the next event is coming up, and if you have an appointment requiring some travel, the alert will sound to tell you how long it’s going to take you to get there. You stay on time, which is always good for business.
For those of you who love apps, I won’t be listing them here. There are hundreds of them, and what will determine what works best will be what works best for YOU. To determine that, you really need to understand what will motivate you to organize in the first place. And if you don’t already have a mindset to structure your day intentionally, these apps will be similar to that treadmill in your back bedroom that is now an expensive clothes drying rack.
It’s a phone, so why wouldn’t communication be a useful feature? Sadly, the smartphone has cost people sales, clients, jobs, and even marriages. Instead of connecting with the person sitting across from you, your eyes are glued to that small screen. So let me be clear on how to use your phone to communicate effectively and authentically to build your business.
Closely tied in with time management, having a phone in your pocket means you can make calls to clients or prospects anytime that would have been considered “down time.” The key here is to plan for what you can do with that down time ahead of time. Keep a list of calls you want to make for the week and keep it handy. Then when there’s a canceled appointment or a long wait at a doctor’s office, or even for your food, you have the tools you need to make a connection with a prospect. You can also make that call to a client that you’ve had for some time, but want to reach out to check in on.
Being late is never a good thing, but reaching out ahead of time, or proposing a virtual meeting using a video conference platform instead to keep you and your contact on schedule, is not only smart, it shows that you have consideration for their time as well.
I have a rule of thumb with my clients, even though they are paying me for the time: put your phone away, and have it turned OFF. The interest you show in anyone will be damaged if you continually look at your phone, or it’s constantly buzzing during your conversation. Please make people feel valued and appreciated, especially if you are hoping to do business with them, by placing your phone out of sight and in silent mode. After all, your phone also comes equipped with voicemail, so you won’t miss a message should someone try to be connecting with you.
Smarter Social Media
I’ll admit, Facebook leaves me puzzled. But that’s me...and for the most part, it’s not a platform my target market is on, really. So I will say that if your research on who your prospects are shows you that they are active and engaged on a social media network, it is good business to be there, too.
Twitter, Facebook and others certainly have the numbers to show they’re popular, but they aren’t necessarily built for business networking. LinkedIn remains that buttoned-up social media platform that caters to business people, no matter their business. I do recommend it for people looking to expand their business, with a few pieces of advice.
• Don’t be over promotional. No one likes to be constantly sold to, and LinkedIn even will restrict behavior that is too salesy.
• Do make connections that make sense. If you enjoyed talking with someone at a business event, reach out to them; in fact when they are still in front of you, ask if it would be OK to connect on LinkedIn. You will need their email just in case you aren’t considered a close enough connection, or at least refer to them as a colleague.
• When you reach out, mention how you met - don’t just default to the canned “I’d like to connect with you...” schtick that pops up in the message. Be real. You’ll have far more impact.
• Join groups that are relative to your business - and be active. Don’t simply collect memberships in dozens of enormous groups. You will get nothing out of it. Instead, do a little homework based on your interests and read up on the group’s policies, standards and its overall discussion. Some will be a great fit, others won’t, and that’s OK.
• Be active - in your groups and on your profile, share information you find instructive, your blogs that aren’t overly promotional, and events that are relevant to your group or to personal development. You can also win friends and influence people by participating in discussions where people are looking for input or advice.
Again, LinkedIn is more formal but it still is social media. It is not the replacement for real in person interaction, but a tool to get you there.
There’s more new technology on the horizon in 2019 to be sure, and there will be plenty to tempt you into thinking that it can do your job better. Really you are the only one that can and will do your job better....if you use the right tools, and use them smartly.