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Main Street corridors and county lines no longer bound society. The geographic boundaries of business expand nationally and globally for many small businesses. With that expansion, communication is critical for their success. Various forms of communication include multiple forms of media as well as traditional, such as phone and mail. What you say and do not say and your body language is important to the recipient of your message. These things affect the perception of your business, the value of your product and/or services as well as relationships with customers and stakeholders.
Techniques exist to assist each of us in developing a more refined skillset in establishing rapport with both communities, business allies and customers alike.
1. If you are participating in a call or Skype with others, call in a few minutes early. Be sure to note times and dates of all call times. Do not arrive late if you are contributing to the discussion, and do not be the reason the call is held up.
2. If you are not speaking or engaged in the call, mute your phone. No one wants to hear side conversations or typing.
3. Always state your name, business and affiliation at the beginning of the call. People want to know whom they are working with.
4. Be prepared on the topic. This is to illustrate you are familiar with the subject matter. For example, if you are exploring a new relationship with suppliers or a set of vendors, conduct prior research.
5. Keep background noise to a minimum. (See point 2.)
6. Pay attention! When questions are asked, nothing is more annoying than hearing crickets chirp.
7. Good reception. If you are on your cell or wireless, make sure you have adequate reception. It can be disruptive to have several individuals or even one key person fall off an important call.
8. Agenda. Define the purpose of the call and keep to it. It is fine to build in time for networking at the beginning during introductions, but keep it to a minimum.
9. Who is the leader? Designate who is leading the call. This will keep the call or meeting flowing well and identify action items from the meeting.
Google+ hangout, Webex and GotoMeeting are all excellent technologies. Whether you opt for a virtual meeting or a conference call meeting, the techniques above will guide you through establishing a more effective and structured purpose. Ultimately, meetings are scheduled to accomplish an end task. By keeping with the process above, you have a greater probability of moving toward that task.
Heather Strohm is community development regional educator for the Southwest Region of Purdue University Extension. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was originally published on April 1, 2017 in the Tribune-Star.