There is a Time and a Place for your Smart Phone

It’s the new form of antisocial behavior, people walking around texting like mad! So what would you do if you are at a meeting and you get notified of a text or email.  Are you going to stop everything to check it out?  WRONG!  What is most important is right here, right now.

Actually, as noted in Bloomberg’s Businessweek, some folks are walking away from their Smart Phones and concentrating on tasks at hand with the people involved.  They
are building relationships and companies the old fashion way, with people in
real time, face-to-face.  The onslaught of social media, texting, tweeting, in addition to regular email and cell phone use has spurred the incidence of miscommunication, incivility and lack of just plain manners in dealing with people and situations in our daily lives.  We may communicate tremendously on facebook or twitter, but do we see the reaction our words are saying to those that read our comments?  Therein lies one of the problems.

Here are some tips to make the best of these new forms of communications and building relationships with your clients and peers.

  • If the issue is privacy in communication realize that e-mail, faxes and telephone lines are not secure.  Many companies monitor conversations as a matter of evaluating customer service and routinely tap into employees  e-mail, and who knows who sees the messages faxed at the machine down the hall!
  • Anything you say on a social media site, or post online is a permanent record that can haunt you the rest of your life.  Be careful what you put on blogs, facebook, twitter, and in your emails.  Prospective employers, clients, and
    others will see it.  Now with GPS, you can also be located so be mindful of what you do with these sites.  You don’t want anyone to  know if you’re playing hookie!
  • Be sensitive to the technological sophistication of the individual that you’re dealing with. Evaluate the means most employed by the other person and use that means as a way to communication. Just ask them, “What is the best way to contact you?”  Don’t assume everyone texts.  Different strokes for different generations!
  • When confirming a meeting, try to do it by phone and either talk to that individual or to their assistant.   Otherwise leave a voice message, e-mail, text or fax confirmation – usually the person will not get it in time. If they text you can text them.
  • Avoid trying to conduct new business with clients over voice mail, text, fax, or e-mail. Face-to-face contact is essential.
  • Contact friends at their home e-mail address for matters not related to business.
  • Avoid bringing cell phones and pagers to any kind of meeting i.e. new client, or job interview. If you are in an interview and your cell phone goes off, you’ve
  • Limit cell phone use.  In most states, it is against the law to drive and be on your cell in the car unless you have a hands-free device.  No texting in the car, period. 
  • If you are with someone, do not email, or text someone ELSE.
  • Avoid making or taking calls during meetings unless it deals with the business at hand.
  • Inform customers of forthcoming faxes or e-mail messages and follow up with a hard copy in the mail.
  • When developing communication with foreign companies, evaluate their level of technological sophistication prior to sending messages via hi-tech vehicles.
  • When using a laptop or iPad in a presentation remember the focus needs to be on the human factor.  The presentation on the laptop is meant to enhance retention of the material since its employing more of the prospect’s senses in comprehension of your message.
  • What about a letter of invitation over the internet?  When it comes to using the internet, there is a generational factor involved.  Some generations prefer a call or a hard copy letter.  Others are satisfied with correspondence over the internet. Ask first so not as to lose the connection.  Also if it’s important material, send a hard copy just for assurance measures.
  • Minimize of the use of palm pilots, Smart Phone, iPads, iPods, pagers, computers until after a client meeting.
  • What about a thank you note over the internet.  Again it’s a generational thing but people are still amazed when they receive a written thank you note.  It says that you took the extra time to write and send it.  But more and more people
    are satisfied with conducting all correspondence over the internet.  Check first.
  • A couple of things to remember.  Faxes and computers in the office are for business only.  Anything private should be handled at home.  With faxes coming in, everyone sees them and now there is software to tap into where you are surfing on company time.  Fair – I can’t answer that, but employers today feel if you are using their equipment for private use on their time, It’s wrong and grounds for a reprimand or termination.
  • When having a business lunch or dinner, turn the cell phone off.  It is a distraction and communicates that the person that you are with are not that important which doesn’t say anything good about you. Getting lots of calls doesn’t mean you’re important, it means that you’re rude.
  • How about the phones that can take pictures and send email?  Be ethical in its use and  don’t intrude on someone’s privacy. If you are going to take someone’s picture, ask them first
  • Face-to-face meetings are still the best way to close a deal!

About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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