Choosing the right communication method when networking

30-Jul-2021

Communication is the key to networking and growing your contacts and partnership, as it is for business in general. Just as important as what you communicate is how you do it and what method to use, which can help you make the communication much more effective.

More than ever there are many ways of communication, but since not all communication is the same or follows the same objectives, you need to communicate through the appropriate method on each occasion. Since the pandemic, we have all changed and adapted our communication style from in-person connections to other virtual forms (like Zoom, Teams, Skype) that have helped us to maintain connections.

To familiarise and get skilled with different methods of communication will help you enjoy successful relationship with agents and customers, despite the imposed Covid difficulties. Now, let’s have an overview of the communication methods available for networking.

Verbal Communication Methods
One of the most common and preferred forms of communication in business and networking is verbal communication. Talking to a partner face-to-face, through a video chat or a phone call, is one of the most natural and comfortable ways of communication, which feels more personal, collaborative and engaging compared to others.

We can use many different types of verbal communications, such as: In-person meetings, Virtual meetings, Phone calls, Seminars or Webinars, Business Presentations (virtual, in-person or video), Reviews and discussions, Social gatherings, etc.

Most of us are familiar and comfortable with verbal communication, including expressing ourselves and listening to others, which makes communication much easier. It also helps to make the message direct as it goes with your tone of voice and a context, making interpretation of the message clear, this can obviously be missed in an email or text message.

For many situations in business and networking, verbal communication can be the ideal choice, including:

  • Building connections. Verbal communication is typically your best option if you’re really looking to build or strengthen a connection with a new or existing partner. Connecting with someone verbally—whether that’s meeting with them in person (post-pandemic, of course), chatting on the phone or having a Zoom call—typically feels more personal than written communication.
  • Discussing with clarity. If you need to communicate something with absolute clarity (for example when discussing on payment terms or solving any incident) it’s generally better to do so verbally. As mentioned, because it’s hard to capture tone and context in written communication, sometimes things get lost in translation in an email, message or text. Having a conversation also allows people to comment in real-time—which can also increase their understanding of your message.
  • Giving feedback. If you have to give someone feedback—particularly if it’s negative or challenging feedback—it’s always better to do it in a verbal conversation (at least a phone call and, if possible, face-to-face over video chat). When for example you want to request a more reciprocal cooperation or get more support from your partners, instead of sending a feedback email or message, it’s easier to convey empathy and understanding by speaking, which can keep the recipient from going on the defensive, and more effectively get to a resolution.

Written Communication Methods
Written communication is just as common as verbal communication in business, particularly when you network with partners and agents that are far away from you.
Email, Text messages, Digital messages (like WhatsApp), Proposals, Contracts, Presentations and brochures, are some of the different types of written communication mostly used in business.

Written communication has many benefits, writing things down can help you structure your contents and ensure that your message is clear, complete and thorough—which can be challenging during verbal communication. Using written communication also creates a record of your exchanges; for example, if you’re having a conversation with a partner or customer about an operation and there is any discrepancy on the terms you can always look back to the information provided and agreed for clarifying.

Written communication is also easier than verbal communication in many circumstances. For example, let’s say you need to share the contact data of a new sales lead with your partner. You can send that information much quicker through an email or digital message.

In many business situations it can be extremely effective to use written communication, here are a few examples:

  • Different time zones communications. If you’re communicating with a partner from a faraway location, sending an email or WhatsApp message can be a much easier and more effective form of communication—specially if our contact is in another time zone, and it is difficult to find a mutually convenient time to connect on a phone or video call.
  • Off-hours communications. Sometimes, in the freight business you’ll have something you want to share with your agents on an evening or weekend. Sending an email or written message is less intrusive and allows them to respond on their own time depending on the urgency.
  • Keeping communication records. Sometimes, you want or need a record of your business communications; for example, maybe you and your partner are setting service rates and want to have your agreement on file for legal reasons, or you have to give detailed shipment instructions and want them to be able to refer those instructions throughout the course of the project. In those situations, we must write things down.

Non-verbal Communication Methods
Your message is what’s most is important. However, experts say that most of our communication goes non-verbal. Everything from your facial expressions to your body language and the gestures you make while speaking can actually send a stronger message than what you’re actually saying.

You can read here our previous article about key aspects and some cues of non-verbal communication.

The point is, your non-verbal communication is speaking just as loudly as your words. So, if you want to deliver effective communication in your business, it’s important to stay aware of what kind of message those non-verbal cues are sending.

Use These Methods of Communication to Increase Efficiency in Your Networking Strategy
Effective communication is an integral part of a successful business relationship. Now that you know the different methods of communication (and how they might play out in your business) you just need to put them into practice for fostering your contacts and business cooperation.

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