Friday, May 21, 2010

MISSING - PHONE NUMBERS

In these days of straightforward communication at all levels, why do so many people omit good, old-fashioned telephone numbers – office or mobile – from their emails?

Equally, why do some websites hide contact telephone numbers away as if they are an embarrassment to them? Phone calls are great ways to clarify matters, clear up any written misunderstandings, discuss issues fluently, or keep in touch. For me, it’s still a natural way to connect and to do business in addition to email, and other helpful social media activity.

I really don’t understand why phone numbers are banished from online appearances. Modern day communication is as straightforward, allegedly, as it’s ever been. Those PR practitioners among us want to communicate, discuss, share, connect, converse, inform, entertain, interest - that’s our business.

So when organisations – and, astonishingly some major media outlets are guilty of this – fail to provide simple phone contact details, an unnecessary difficulty arises. A PR chum, keen to target leading blogs, told me some didn’t even have email addresses – one-way communication only, it would seem.

That’s when a simple telephone number comes into its own, to play a key role. I joke with friends and clients that I’m “going over the wire, Steve McQueen-style and avoiding the Twitter/Facebook spotlights” by making direct contact on the phone. Think I’ll be booted out of the social media club for that confession?

Making telephone contact is essential in business, and in life, generally. Another bugbear is voice mail messages when no return numbers are left. Or numbers are left, but rattled off really, really, really quickly as if the caller was fleeing a blazing building.

I love social media and the speed of Internet services as they make life a whole lot easier for us all. But, telephone numbers should still be in the contact mix.

Friday, May 14, 2010

CONSIDERING CONSIDERATION

Recently I blogged about good manners and my view that they matter in business. The feedback was quite astonishing.

Around a hundred people from all over the world including India, the USA, Greece, Australia, Europe, England and Scotland responded when I posted my thoughts on the LinkedIn website http://www.linkedin.com

Most agreed that being polite, taking the trouble to respond to emails or voicemails, acknowledging receipt of important documents such as proposals was not difficult and, indeed, was an important element of conducting business seriously in a well-mannered, courteous way.

It was an issue that even made it in to the pages of a national Sunday http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/business/Michelle-Rodger-Manners-maketh-man.6168474.jp newspaper, where I was quoted. The reaction from that was encouraging as well.

It’s clear that good manners to many people do count for a lot, an awful lot. Just take a look at Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn where individuals gleefully reply and respond, suggest and refer, help and inform. In the main, these sites highlight first-class, heart-warming Net-iquette.

So I’d like now to see this extended into a further business arena – the networking event. And you can blame (only kidding) Cordelia Ditton of http://www.voicebusinesstraining.co.uk as she encouraged this rant.

Her latest blog http://talkaboutspeaking.com/networking-tip-how-to-move-on-without-feeling-you-are-giving-offence is very useful on how to extricate yourself from being stuck in one spot at a networking event. For me, however, that’s not been a real problem but, nevertheless I found reading Dilly’s blog useful, as always. It’s one of the best blogs on my radar.

My biggest bugbear at networking events comes when I am happily engaged and talking with one or more people, listening, exchanging views and offering suggestions to one another.

Then someone else barges in flourishing a business card before launching into the dire “all about me” spiel. Very annoying, hugely boring. I would never dream of being so discourteous. Networking is about meeting different people and, to my mind, the listening part is crucial. I don’t expect anyone wants to hear about PR in detail, the services my company offers or any other info in glorious Technicolour. They prefer, as I do, a brief overall summary that encourages questions or, even better, presents an opportunity for a follow-up, one-to-one conversation at a future date.

But the individual, who breezes into conversations and focuses on his or her business, what he or she can do for you and so on, doesn’t talk with anyone – he or she talks at you. He/she seems to think I, and others in the gathering, need to know in gruesome, long-winded detail all about him or her, what they do and why they are so damn good at it. I don’t. Sorry. To me, such people appear extremely desperate for attention, new business, who knows? It’s easy to walk away from them.

This has happened to me over the years. Usually, I escape with the words “I’ll leave you to it” or “I think we’ve chatted before” – not, perhaps, very profound or well considered or worth copying. But it has worked for me.

Such gatherings are a chance for low-key business conversations, a time to meet others in a range of businesses, to fit faces to names of companies I’ve heard about, to build possible relationships. And at some events, I have met people I have come to admire, like and even to do business with.

Rant over.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

PEPPA PIG AND POLITICS

I’ll be voting on Thursday. I always vote, it is important.

I have voted for two political parties over the years, one consistently and the other, when I was possibly an angrier and younger man, on the one occasion only.

I’ll keep their identities private. Voting is personal and is based on a great many things for me.

The current General Election campaign has been wholly uninspiring and the attempt to put personalities before policies has not captured my imagination. The TV debates were dull, dreary and puerile.

Neither am I impressed – ever, it should be noted – by the endorsements from celebrities, sports stars or anyone else in the public eye. The exact opposite is the case, actually.

I’m underwhelmed when Richard “I don’t believe it” Wilson or comic Eddie Izzard tell me they’re voting Labour. Big Deal.

Actors Michael Caine and Gary “Take That” Barlow are backing the Conservatives. So what?

The Lib Dems have Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe and fellow thespian, Colin Firth on their side. Really, hold me back.

An election highlight so far was when I learned that Channel Five stopped cartoon character star, Peppa Pig from playing any part in a Labour press conference. Would that have helped secure the vote of morning TV “Milkshake” viewers like me, I wonder? I watch it with my three-year-old son, Adam before he heads off to nursery, I should explain.

Conversely, I won’t stop watching someone like Eddie Izzard if his vote was different to mine – he’ll still be funny regardless of his political preferences and, similarly, Gary Barlow’s music will continue to do nothing for me, no matter who he votes for.

I’m not for a minute suggesting there’s something wrong or unpleasant with celebrity backing it’s just that I doubt if it has any real influence. Pointless in my case and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Just a thought. Maybe it would be better if the “stars” urged everyone to actually cast their votes, to get down to the polling station, to exercise their rights. That might have an impact, you never know.