No matter what kind of work you do – whether you’re a small business owner or a corporate employee – your ability to communicate effectively and efficiently is key to building a trustworthy personal brand.
You might be an intelligent, likable person who’s great at their job, but if you stop responding to emails or phone calls, none of that matters. Even if you’re not in a traditionally client-facing position, you still have to stay on top of your communications. When you don’t, your stakeholders lose faith, and you lose credibility. Don’t let poor communication destroy your personal brand.
Poor Communication Sends the Wrong Message
One of my clients has been working with a consultant on a project since last November. The original deadline was early January. Now it’s March, and she hasn’t seen a single deliverable.
“Every time I email the designer,” she told me, “it’s a week before I hear back. I can’t get customers in the door until this project is finished, and to make matters worse, I’ve already paid her!” All my client needs is a message from her consultant explaining the delay. “The fact that she doesn’t think I’m worth that much makes me feel like a pretty low priority.”
When someone invests in you or your company, you have a responsibility to communicate with them at all stages of the working relationship. Your personal brand isn’t a wardrobe or resume; it’s a start-to-finish experience that leaves clients feeling seen, heard, and valued.
Eight Tips to Avoid Communication Breakdowns
There are so many ways to communicate these days that there’s no excuse to let questions go unanswered. If you can’t send an email, you can text, Slack, or pick up the phone and leave a message. Of course, the downside to having so many options is that it can often feel like you’re drowning in communication from others.
The shift to work-from-home has only made things worse. With fewer opportunities to connect in-person and endless distractions, it makes sense that an email or text might occasionally get lost in the shuffle. But if you’re consistently falling behind, you’ll need to make some changes.
- Outsource your communications: Have your assistant go through your emails to prioritize them or even answer them for you.
- Make Promises You Can Keep: Before committing to a project, make sure you have the bandwidth to take it on.
- Renegotiate As Soon As Possible: If you fall behind, renegotiate quickly. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get back on track.
- Be Honest About Delays: People understand shifting deadlines but not dead silence. If there’s a delay, let them know and provide a specific new deadline.
- Check Your Folders: If you’re expecting an important email and it doesn’t arrive, check your spam and junk folders. Still not there? Follow up with the sender.
- Pick Up The Phone: Your clients deserve to hear your voice. Even if you leave a message, a call goes a long way to create rapport and make them feel valued.
- Flag Your Emails: If you open an email and can’t answer right away, mark it as unread or flag it for follow-up so that it doesn’t get lost in your inbox.
- Stop Multitasking and Listen: When you’re on a call with a customer, give them your undivided attention so that you don’t miss critical information.
Communication Isn’t Just What You Say
Communication isn’t just about the words that come out of your mouth. It’s about your tone of voice, the questions you ask, and how well you listen. It’s also about how quickly and respectfully you follow-up to renegotiate when a project is delayed, or you need to change the scope.
Remember, you want your clients to communicate positively about you to other people. Even at a high level, business success is all about word of mouth. When you take your communication seriously, you earn strong referrals, good reviews, and increased brand credibility. So, pick up the phone and let your clients know they matter.
If poor communication is hurting your personal brand, I can help.