Special Report – Moving Your Organization into the Communication Age

The key is to understand how people like to communicate. Therefore, before you use a certain communication tool with an individual or group, ask yourself, “How does this person (or department, company, etc.) prefer to communicate?” If you’re not sure, look at how the other party regularly communicates with you. People tend to use the communication tool they’re most comfortable with. Better yet, ask the other party how they prefer communications to come to them. If your goal is to elicit some sort of action, you have to communicate in the manner that will get the other party to respond.

Just as people communicate in different ways, they also learn and absorb information in different ways. Some people would rather listen to a book than read it. Knowing this, do you think that people who would rather listen to a book than read it would also prefer voicemail over email? Probably so. A person’s learning style usually mirrors his or her communicating style. Therefore, if you’re trying to communicate and get people to absorb information, wouldn’t it make sense to deliver the message in a way that ties into their learning style?

With the communication tools currently available, you can tap into someone’s preferred style. Today, we have the technology that enables you to leave someone a voicemail, but they receive it as a text message or read it as an email. Or, you can text someone and the receiver gets it as a phone call. The ability to have a sender send something in the format they prefer and the receiver receive it in the format they prefer is here now. You simply have to use it. When you do, you’ll be maximizing communications internally and externally.

Get social inside the organization – Social media is all about communicating, not informing. That’s why it’s been so widely accepted. Before social media, the internet was a giant tool for informing. Now it has shifted to become a giant tool for both informing and communicating, and that shift has been rapidly embraced by young and old alike. But are companies using these communication tools internally? For most organizations, the answer is no. However, once you understand the power of the various social media applications and how to use them in your organization, you’ll quickly find that they can be invaluable tools to enhance your communications efforts. Following are some examples.

Facebook: Large organizations can connect all of their employees or members with an internal, secure Facebook like application. This has helped organizations to dramatically increase their internal networking and collaboration. Ask yourself: Could we use Facebook, or our own internal version, to get people to communicate and collaborate at a higher level?

Twitter: Young people use Twitter for answering the question: What are you doing? Business users could change that question to: What problem are you trying to solve? Several companies have used this as a fast way to solve problems. Hotels, airlines, and airports are using Twitter to pitch services, travel updates, and respond to travelers needs. Ask yourself: Could we use Twitter to solve problems faster with our organization or our customers?

Wikipedia: A large manufacturing company with engineers in locations around the world increased problem solving and collaboration by creating an internal, secure version of Wikipedia for sharing information on products and service offerings as well as repair and maintenance instructions. Retailers and suppliers could create an internal version of Wikipedia to foster education and training as well as enhanced information sharing. Ask yourself: Could we create an internal version of Wikipedia to foster better information and knowledge sharing?

YouTube: Businesses are posting humorous commercial videos to generate interest in their products with great success. The more entertaining it is, the more people watch it. Business partners could create a YouTube like channel for the purpose of educating and training. Ask Yourself: Could we enhance our marketing efforts as well as general communication by using YouTube or our own version of video sharing?

Digg: Many organizations have found this to be a good way to track the most interesting advances in technology or the most useful business news. Large organizations can create their own internal version for sharing what employees consider to be the most useful information. Ask yourself: Could we use Digg, or our own internal version, to get people to share their most interesting and valuable web-based information with each other?

Delicious: Business users can share their most useful websites with co-workers or business partners. If a customer purchases a product, sellers could share relevant bookmarks that keep the customer coming back for more information and hopefully more products. Ask yourself: Could we use Delicious to share important new web sites faster within our organization or with our customers?

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a business-oriented professional networking website for exchanging professional and business opportunities. Large insurance companies use LinkedIn to foster networking with their independent sales representatives. HR professionals from all over the world could use LinkedIn to share best practices. Ask Yourself: Could we use LinkedIn to expand our organizational network for enhanced knowledge sharing?

Visual communications: Visual Communications, unlike traditional video conferencing, uses your desktop, laptop, or smart phone to hold a quick, anytime, anywhere videoconference with one or more other people. Travelers who must be away from home are using their laptops in hotel rooms with broadband access and free software such as Skype and AIM to communicate with family and friends to enhance their personal connection. Businesses are discovering the power of Visual Communications to enhance the connection with their sales force, business partners, and customers. Ask yourself: Could we use Visual Communications to enhance communications internally and externally?

By reframing the use of social networking technology, companies can increase communication, collaboration, problem solving, and competitive advantage with little cost. And since many of these tools are free or nearly free, they are accessible to organizations of any size.

The sooner you embrace these tools and put it to work for you, the faster you can enhance your ability to communicate information in a way that generates action and response in your people.

Create community – Two types of online communities exist: communities of interest and communities of practice. A community of practice may be all the salespeople in a company or industry, or a group of cardiologists. It’s a professional type of community where members share their knowledge and best practices.