Communication Best Practices

24th March, 2015 No Comments Blog , CoVenture , Fundraising

Communication is one of the most important skills in business; perhaps in life.  Recently, I saw David Tisch talk about communication best practices in a lecture at Cornell Tech.  I agreed with nearly everything he said and made me think someone should write a blog post on the topic.  He was kind enough to let me steal his ideas and to review the final product.  As I wrote down David’s ideas and added my own, the post has become a series of them, each on a different mode (e-mail, meeting, call, event).  Subsequent posts in this series provide practical tips for making the most of each mode.  This post summarizes overall best practices for business communication that apply regardless of the mode:

  1. Assume everyone is busy.  Be friendly, but get to the point.
  2. Start with trust.  Assume most people mean well until they obviously don’t.
  3. Stalk before you talk.  Spend at least a few minutes learning about someone before you talk to them for the first time (Google is handy).  Remind yourself about those details before you talk to them in future conversations.
  4. Draw lines not dots.  Mark Suster wrote about this concept here in reference to diligence and investing, but I think the concept applies more broadly.  Most business activities (sales, business development, marketing, capital raising, even product development) boil down to sales – getting another person or group to do something you want.  You are more likely to accomplish that if you communicate with that person more than once, providing more value/information at each interaction.
  5. Show don’t tell.  Another truism when it comes to sales of all kinds:  people are much more convinced when they see evidence and draw their own conclusions than when they are served up the conclusions directly.
  6. No surprise introductions.  Before you introduce two people, ask each of them independently if they are open to the introduction.  An introduction takes time (to meet or otherwise communicate) from the people whom you connect – time they may not want to give.
  7. Use the right medium.  Many people call or text when an e-mail or meeting is better.  Before you reach out, think about the best mode of communication for you and the counterparty, not just what is convenient for you in the moment.  More on how to choose in subsequent posts in this series.  In general, text messages and social media are for personal communications and, in the latter case, for public relations; these modes are generally not for person-to-person business communication.

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