Proper Business Communications — Always Professional

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CHICAGO — Do you have a business card? If so, how do you utilize it? Keep in mind that these cards have two sides. If you are touting “green” as part of your program, add important information on both sides—it’s a better use option.
Let’s say someone gives you his business card during a conference or social event, or on the bus, train or plane. What do you do next? A business card is an invitation for future interaction and communication, but how you act after receiving the card will determine the giver’s responsiveness.
Jot down notes on the card (most are blank on the back). Write down anything that will jog your memory regarding this contact. But if the card is of no use to you, discard it in a recycling container.
I am continually peeved that folks don’t follow up after a meeting, either formally (a handwritten note) or informally (e-mail). It’s mirror time again. When was the last time you actually wrote or even typed a note to someone? Long time, I’ll bet.
Indicate in your note or e-mail that you enjoyed meeting them and that you hope to stay in touch. If you promised to send something or to follow up on an issue, refer to this portion of your conversation and send or do what you promised. If you cannot, tell them that you are sorry.
Never, never, never send your résumé … unless your communication partner requests it. If you are looking for a job, simply ask the person to let you know of any opportunities they may hear about and tell them you would be pleased to forward whatever information is appropriate.
Do not look up your contact on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. A few days after your initial follow-up, invite this person to contact you by e-mail. This increases the opportunities for future correspondence and to stay in contact, and keeps your résumé at close range (if applicable).
At this point, reset your e-mail signature for this contact. Once you have identified your position and title and shared other personal information, there is no need to keep reminding folks. This applies to the work environment, too, but leaving your phone number is appropriate.
Every time I receive an e-mail from a sender who routinely identifies himself by title, I am quick to remind him I am fully aware of who he is. But some folks just never get the message.
Never add a new contact to your e-mail list. When you receive business cards that include contact information, the givers are granting you permission to contact them on a professional, one-on-one basis. They are not giving you permission to place them on your joke list, to send them your blog updates, or to contact them with any other mass mailing.
Once you have completed these tasks, organize the business cards you have received. Type the information into a computer database and toss the cards—unless you have a filing system. Some people file cards in organizers, while others digitally scan cards. I have used an alphabetical index-card box for years.
Not much radical in this month’s column, but I will leave you with this final thought.
For those of you who are responsible for conferences, media, professional associations and even businesses, Facebook-like programs are not really designed or administered to promulgate your business activities like LinkedIn. Other, more professional sites are available and better forms of communications than social media could and should be used.
Research other, more requisite opportunities that could better meet your goals and objectives, such as a website that communicates and functions like a website should.
Someone must draw the line between professional and personal media. Decide upon your purpose and goals and start from that point. All postings in a professional setting are to be just that—professional. Don’t set your operation up for confusion by allowing irrelevant messages.


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