Purposeful Communication and Effective Networks

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Last month we looked at our first theme, ‘gaining the competitive edge’, which explored the value of a client centric approach and the importance of strong product or service knowledge.

This month we will delve into the second installment of our four-part series which will help you set your business apart from your competitors, achieve a loyal customer base, increase efficiency, improved networks and, ultimately, increase sales.

As I mentioned in my first blog piece, ‘gaining the competitive edge’, each of the four are interdependent, with each theme being part of a larger whole that will enable you move towards excellence and build a stronger, more reputable and sustainable business.

Purposeful Communication and Effective Networks

The second theme is ‘purposeful communication and effective networks’. We begin by looking at our first two sub sections;

  1. Purposeful communication

  2. Building effective networks and great teams

Purposeful Communication

As a leader you will have a purpose, vision and a mission for your business; how you communicate this information to your team will make a huge difference to how much you can achieve together.

Often within business there is a lot of passing around of information but is often of limited value in it’s purposeful the exchange has been. Great communication is the cornerstone of great leadership, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.

The Art of Communication Is the Language of Leadership.
— James Humes

To be successful in your communication begin by thinking about who is your audience and what are trying to say; are you communicating with staff members, a board or directors or a customer? What do I want the recipient to think, feel or do as a result of my communication?

Taking time to think about this will improve communication and make it much more impactful. It would be a lazy, and potentially costly mistake, to think that one size fits all. As each audience differs, so too does the purpose of the exchange which means that you need to take the time to craft different messages.

Equally as important is considering how that individual, or team, might best receive the information. Email has become our first point of reference and what should be an ‘enabler’ in business has become, at best, an inconvenience and at worst a complete blocker. Yes, it’s easy, it’s quick, it’s a habit, but is it effective? Ask yourself, is it meeting my needs, and will it work for my audience?

There is a wealth of communication tools and technologies available at present that we can take advantage of to enable us to get our message across effectively; consider web conferencing technology, the power of video, infographics and animation to name but a few.

Where possible add the human touch. Having the opportunity to sit down with someone decreases the risk of misinterpretation – we can see almost immediately comprehension or confusion, and it offers the opportunity to really listen to their unique set of needs and problems.

Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.
— Paul J. Meyer

Whilst we are not all born natural communicators, the good news is that excellent communication skills can be developed and like most things in business, it all begins with a clear purpose.

To ensure that you are engaging in purposeful communication considering the following elements:

  • What message are trying to communicate?

  • Make sure that your communication is honest and authentic, say what you mean and

  • mean what you say. Honesty is key, even when it is difficult as it will bring long term

  • benefits for the relationship, building the trust we referred to in previous blog.

  • Exemplify the behaviours or change that you wish to see in your business. Your team

  • will observe not only what you are telling them, but what you are doing as well.

  • Have very clear objectives, the message being relayed has a job to do.

  • Ensure that you are getting everyone on the same page.

  • Communication is a two-way street. Take the time to listen to what others have to say and carefully considers their input before responding to their needs or problems.

The impact of purposeful communication can have far reaching, positive effects. Employee and customer satisfaction will increase, filtering through to positive engagement and positive feedback. Employees and clients who feel valued will show greater trust and loyalty to your business resulting in greater productivity, output and sales.

It is important to remember that most aspects of communication are a dynamic process.

Effective Networks

Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.

For many of us the word “networking” may invoke feelings of boredom or dread, however it is an essential part of business growth, how else can you expect to meet people who can help your business move in the right direction? And besides expanding your professional network, sometimes networking can be fun as well.

One in four don’t currently network at all
— Professor Julia Hobsbawm

Time is a finite resource so do your homework to ensure that you are selecting groups and events that are worth your time investment and can help you get ahead by engaging with the right people. There is no viable way to network with everyone in your niche, that’s why it’s important to filter through your contacts to see who is worth establishing a relationship with. You can do this by asking yourself whether you can help each other.

So where should I invest my time and who should I include in my network? Great networks fuel success and, like communication, it needs to be purposeful. Ask yourself what are your goals are in participating in networking meetings.

By connect your networking strategy to these questions you are more likely to engage with the right people who can help you move towards your goals.

Consider who you can connect with that can help accelerate your journey towards your aims. Again, take your time to be sure of why you might want to connect and what you hope to achieve from it. Is it a mentor or an advisor who can share knowledge with you? An investor to add capital? Or a support network who can remind you of why you started your journey?

It is also important to consider how you can give something back. When you are known as a strong and useful resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. which helps to keep you visible to them.

When you find yourself in networking opportunities always keep in mind that this is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others. To do this:

  • Be your authentic self

  • Be genuinely curious about the other person

  • Ask open ended question, this opens up discussion and shows the listener that you are

  • interested in what they have to say

  • Listen and pay attention to the other person

  • Follow up to foster the relationship

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to networking; it’s a two-way street. This means that whenever you meet someone ask them about their business as well as informing them about yours. Go in with a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what is different about your offering. To get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do so that you can easily articulate it to others.

Once you have accumulated a good number of contacts, work to establish meaningful strategic relationships with these people. Keep in touch on a regular basis and ensure that the interaction is also worth their time.

Conclusion

In this month’s blog we have looked at the benefits of applying purposeful communications and effective networks to your business.

To lead your business with purpose, vision and success it is essential that you learn to communicate with purpose, clearly conveying your message to your team, directly to clients or to business associates.

With communication quality is much more impactful than quantity; think about what you want to say, who you want to say it to and how you can best achieve getting your message across. One size does not fit all audiences so ensure that you craft a message that will resonate with each sector, and of course, don’t forget the value of adding the human touch.

Being a great communicator is not about being an extrovert either, communication skills can be developed and all you need to begin with is a clear purpose.

The impact of purposeful communication can have a huge impact for your business creating increased employee and customer satisfaction and a sense of feeling valued which encourages greater trust and loyalty.

Do bear in mind that we are always learning and there is always room for improvement, but it is key that we continue to ask ourselves how purposeful our communication is.

Effective communication leads directly into effective business networking as once again, researching and communicating your goals to develop mutually beneficial relationships with your business network is key to encouraging future leads and referrals.

Choosing the right networks, people and events is crucial, both from an effectiveness and time efficiency point of view. It’s important to filter through your contacts and networks to see where is worth investing this time to really bring about change within your business and achieve your goals.

Building a network is not a one-way street however, it is also important to consider how you might be able to give something back by way of input, volunteering your time, generating referrals for other people or creating introductions for other businesses.

Ensure that you are always your genuine and authentic self as this will help you building trust and relationships with the right individuals and companies for you and your business. Remember, people buy from people first!

Gavin Friel