I'm convinced that 90 percent of a product or service's success is based on how well the company communicates. It applies to consultants expressing their focus, startups explaining why customers need them, and businesspeople closing a deal.
Unfortunately, it's absurdly easy to focus just on making the perfect item or getting other details in order rather than actually communicating with others. Here are three big communication traps that you can easily fall into.
1. Problem: Hopping mediums during a single conversation
Imagine connecting with a potential business partner on LinkedIn and, as the conversation goes on, they start pinging their next thought on Facebook Messenger... then on email... then on Slack. Medium-hopping has always been a problem, but it is magnified now with the sheer number of ways people can communicate.
During my first book tour, I remember a major news outlet reaching out to me for an interview - via a blog comment that slid right into my Spam folder. I didn't discover it until months later. We both lost: They missed their scoop and I missed my publicity.
Solution: Choose a medium and stick with it. I personally don't like in-website systems (e.g. Facebook Messenger), so people who reach out to me on them will often be invited to have the conversation via email. Not only does it make the communication expectations clear, but it keeps a consistent log of what was said rather than being spread across countless mediums.
2. Problem: Rambling emails
Attention spans aren't necessarily getting shorter, but our judgment over how we spend our time is getting faster. How many times has a longform article or long-running miniseries kept your attention? When it comes to communication, our real challenge is showing that our message is worth it to someone within the first few seconds they look at it.
This truth is even more important when it comes to email. When it comes to business, readers often want to know one major thing: What action are you asking me to take?
Solution: As Fast Company's Liz Funk suggests, keep your emails to five sentences. All of them. What you'll find is that you'll automatically begin editing out the fat, removing the hyperbole and getting to the point. I've found it tremendously effective in both my writing process and in my responses.
3. Problem: Committing to one public platform
I recently heard an entrepreneur talk down a popular social media platform. However, he said in the next breath that he didn't realize how much his audience loved it: His traffic and relative sales jumped significantly soon as he made an effort to be present on it.
Solution: Plant a flag in every platform. It doesn't mean spending regular hours developing a presence on irrelevant platforms, but rather making your presence there in the most basic form. First, you want the public to be able to reach you in the easiest way, even if it is your most basic contact information. Second, you do not know the next social media platform to take off or to fall off.