Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Effective Communication for Consultants

From time to time I like to review my blog's statistics to see which topics are of most interest to my readers. 

Since launching this blog in the late 2006, no post has received more traffic than one I did on the subject of how to create an effective outgoing voicemail message.  I don't think it is just consultants who are searching for information on this subject.  Business professionals who care about their public image seem to appreciate this kind post (more like a rant - you'll see when you read it).

It still amazes me how some professionals ignore this form of communication as an opportunity to leverage the medium to effectively communicate with their customers.  Ideally, you want to make it easy for your customers to reach you.  If they can't reach you in person by phone kindly ask them to leave a message or include an e-mail address in the outgoing message.  Direct them to your website by giving them your URL (provided it isn't too long).  Do whatever you can, within reason, to give your customer alternate means to contact you.  If you close yourself off from your customers, they'll close themselves off from you and move on to the next business who is more responsive to their needs.

E-mail is another popular topic on this blog.  I'm trying to steer clear of ranting in this post, but e-mail is another topic that frustrates me as a consultant.  I cringe each and every time I see a consultant or a business professional use Yahoo!, Hotmail, or any other webmail service as their primary means of e-mail communication.  Gmail is the latest.  The advantages to these services are that they are convenient and easily accessible from any Internet connection.  The trade off is that many of these webmail services have become associated with spammers.  That's not to say that a business professional using any one of these services is a spammer, but what's the advantage to hanging out with a bad crowd?

Domain names are easy to come by and many companies that sell domain names include information on how to set up the domain name to have e-mail addresses associated with it.  "TVCNet.org" is my domain name for Treasure Valley Consultants' Network and I have "TVCNet.org" e-mail addresses associated with it.  The reason I do this is because I want to use my e-mail address as a promotional vehicle for my organization.  How can I do that when my address is promoting a webmail service or the ISP I am using for Internet access?  As a bonus, the same e-mail addresses (most of them at least) that you associate with your URL can be accessed on the web through a browser just like the Yahoo!, Hotmail and Gmail accounts. You don't have to have an e-mail client installed on your computer to view your messages.

Finally, the other popular post on this blog has to do with networking. What's to say that hasn't been said about this topic?  You can't grow your business unless you get out, meet people and let them know who you are and what you can do for them or their clients.  Plain and simple.  If you have trouble meeting people, it's time to get out of your comfort zone.  I assure you the more you participate in networking events, the easier and more comfortable it gets.  As a result, your business will grow.

Whether you are new to consulting or an old pro, take some time to look at these three communication channels to make sure they are effective.  You'll be surprised how small changes make a big impact on your business.

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