Over the course of an average business day, you’re going to come across a wide range of people. And while you can outsource much of your business, you can’t hire someone to be friendly and personable for you.
So how do you ramp up your communication skills to best nurture the relationships that are so crucial to your business success? Well, you can start with the simple act of valuing them.
Everybody has a story about poor customer service, where the provider was rude and or unresponsive. You can best strengthen customer relationships by:
- Knowing your products and services.
- Being confident and knowledgeable about everything you offer and also, about the target market you are selling to.
- Learning about your customers’ wants and needs, and everything they are interested in.
Great relationships start with understanding, trust and knowledge.
As a solo trader, you may need to depend on suppliers like graphic designers, web developers, and virtual assistants. Giving these people clear and concise feedback, while also listening to them when they make suggestions (they are expert at what they do remember?) keeps the lines of communication open and effective.
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New technologies like social media allow for unparalleled access to influential people like journalists, bloggers, and other well-respected business owners in your industry. The best way to open up the lines of communication with these influencers is to share their work and be helpful to them in a genuine way. This provides a great foundation for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
Sitting at home in your office by yourself is a very lonely experience, especially when the products are not rolling out, and themoney is not rolling in. During these downtimes your professional network will be indispensable. Send a cheery tweet, plan a Skype conversation, or request a heartfelt chat over coffee.
Your professional network may consist of other business owners in your local area, family and friends. These people will be your biggest fans and supporters, so always remember to invest in these relationships.
The least recognised area of business communication is self-communication. This involves recording ideas, schedules, and reminder messages. It also includes the self-talk in your head–that should always be encouraging, and respectful. To be successful in business, try speaking to yourself like you would speak to your best and favourite customer.
And if ever you’re really struggling to open the lines of communication with someone, my best advice is to start drinking more tea and coffee. Relationships naturally blossom when there are hot beverages involved.