Wednesday, January 28, 2009


You would think that with all the options for communication in our very busy 21st century world, that our ability to communicate would be better than ever. I find that with most of the people I work with, that they'd say that communication is worse than it has ever been. The problem seems to come from distraction, not from an intent not to communicate.

I've taken a lot of seminars and courses in communication over the last 20 years, whether it was while I was in the Army, college or corporate time management training, the key item all 3 warn their students about is disruption. Disruption of your thought process, leads to poor communication. They all tell you that you need to set time aside each day for each type of work that you do. This includes strategic/long term thinking, operational work (getting things done that include your day to day job) and communication (phone calls (returning messages) answering emails, twitter, SMS, social media status updates -whatever forms you have). You can see that the list of communications options is really getting a bit crazy - and most of them have great potential to interrupt your other efforts. Let's look at the list one more time - just to make sure we are really taking into account everything you have that is making noise during your day to interrupt your train of thought:

  1. Phone Calls (office phone)
  2. Phone Calls (cell phone)
  3. SMS/Text Messages (cell phone)
  4. Email (notification from your pc/mac)
  5. Email (blackberry/iPhone)
  6. Twitter (tweetdeck, etc)
  7. Instant Messaging
I'm sure there are more options on the number of active communications/disruption devices you have that can interrupt your train of thought - or even the other forms of communications (you are trying to answer emails, and you keep getting IM chats popping up, or your phone keeps beeping that you have another text message).

The result is that you may be sending out requests for information in order to do your job better, but then not responding back to others, because you have so many other devices vying for your attention. The basic principles of time management still apply. You need to create discipline into each device and know exactly how and when you are going to respond to each one. I'm sure many will say 'they are all important things I'm waiting to get status on!!" The problem is that if everything is imprtant, then nothing is important. Important by definition indicates that it stands out from the other items.

These new forms of communication are arriving in front of us much faster than we can adapt, as a society, and the result is that a lot more falls through the cracks of our own personal customer service. It's easy to want to be all things to all people, all the time, but the reality is that success will come from effectively communicating expectations. When can you really get back to something. How often can you really watch the form of cummunication that you expect from that person. You even need to come to an agreement with each communiction goal you have, as to which form of communication will be the preferred method, so that you can determine what percentage of your time neeeds to be devoted to it (time management).

We can't avoid new forms of communication. Our business depends on communicating in the ways that our customers, bosses, and peers are the most effective, and adpting to them as quickly as we can (if our goal is customer service - which we mostly are). Just remember to be honest with yourself, determine how often you can really commit to that form of communication, and make sure to let others know what it is. Don't speak generally, be specific. Transparency is more than just open communication, it's also effective communication.

Photo Credit visions by kai

Monday, January 19, 2009

Does (Network) Size Matter?

Everywhere I go, whether in the real world or online, there are folks out there collecting as many contacts as possible, at any cost. In the real world, I've rarely seen this be a successful tactic, and I don't see it working so far online either. I know of a lot of 'LIONS' on LinkedIn, and folks with many thousands of followers on Twitter, but in most cases, it doesn't seem to make them happy or more successful. I'm not saying that there aren't people with large followings and networks that haven't achieved success, I'm just saying it isn't their social media networks that were the cause of that success, they have other skills that have done that for them.

I know you've seen these folks in real life networking events. They show up at the event, grab a drink at the bar and quickly move to the closest conversation in progress, with 5 of their business cards in hand before they ever say word one. They insert a few words into a conversation, just enough to get attention, others in the conversation are polite, and introduce themselves, and vois la, they have an opening to push cards into the unwary hands of everyone, who now feel obliged to find a card and provide it to the intruder, out of polite response. The members of this conversaton are soon left by the 'networker', and barely notice as they continue their conversation. These folks will all be a bit suprised the next day when they get at least one, if not several online networking invitations to become 'friends', as well as an email, and most likely a voicemail left before business hours.

There was no 'connection' between the networker and the conversations that he repeatedly joined throughout the evening. He didn't really join in their topics of discussion, or contribute to their quest for knowledge or humor (whatever they were looking to discuss). Why does this person now feel that he can reach out and innundate everyone he's met with requests that, if accepted, show a close personal or business relationship with others? This same person will also forward more requests for connections to your network than any of your closest network combined, and you'll get tired of using the 'ignore' button much sooner than you think (should you actually accept their 'friend' and network invitations.

Please people, take a breath, enjoy the work you do, and when you network, join 2, maybe 3 conversations during the evening, that really intrugue you, and really participate. This is true online as well - find groups and discussions that you are passionate about (either pleasure or work related). The people you meet, will see your knowlege/passion on the subject, and over time, will come to rely on you and when they need something you have to offer - they'll think of you first, because you are the right choice. You don't need a network of 10,o000 friends and followers - you just need enough quality relationships to help those who need it, which will provide you with all the sales you'll ever need - really - I promise.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year and Where is my next blog entry (all 4 of them)

Ok - so I've been trying to get better about how to capture the ideas I come up with for the blog. A couple triathlon ideas really needed to get out, on how to get back safely from our holiday feasting, and then some issues I see popping up online with Twitter, as folks start falling into the same bad habits they have in 'real-time' networking (grabbing as many cards as possible without having a single meaningful conversation).

Anyway - the draft mode is great. It lets me pop on - start an entry and see - there goes the phone now - ok, I'm back - as I was saying, it lets me get a thought down before I lose it and see if it fleshes out.

Unfortunately I now have several started but I seem to run out of day before they get completed.

Well, I feel a small sense of accomplishment by putting a couple thoughts together, and ofcourse, I had a few things I wanted to tweet about, but the calls and the blog writing all takes time. So many thoughts going on, and so little time.

Thanks for listening.