Every day there is a new option for communication; email, phone, skype, twitter, SMS, etc. As the number of channels available through which to communicate multiply so to do the number of people who claim to be experts on each. There certainly may be nuances and particulars implicit to the various options there are three rules that will make you a master of any method:
1. Make sure your audience, be it one person or hundreds, is comfortable with the method. You probably have your preferred methods of communicating but if those you are trying to communicate with don’t share your preference you may be wasting your time. If you are trying to use SMS to send a message to someone without a data enabled phone then you message will be lost in the ether, literally. More frequently messages are invading channels where they may not be welcome. Facebook, for example, is used by many for personal networking so when commercial or professional messages are received they may be ignore or worse, cause the receiver to become annoyed. Make sure the method you choose to communicate is one your audience prefers, even if that means sending the same message through more than one channel.
2. Be sincere. You know when you’re on the receiving end of a hastily written, jargon filled, mass email. You also know how whatever the desired message contained within, you’re less likely to give it much thought or credibility. Next time you find yourself writing one of these messages take a second to ask yourself are you being genuine. This doesn’t mean you have to write a novella it means you have to speak succinctly and intent. You will recognize the difference in reception if you always present your words with awareness of the audience and goal of the message.
3. Know the etiquette. For most channels there are a loose set of standards of etiquette. You shouldn’t send an SMS in all caps, don’t flood an in-box with unnecessary emails, look someone in the eyes when you speak to them. Many of these “rules” are learned first by watching, then by doing. If you aren’t sure exactly what the proper content is for a Twitter message read those of others. If you aren’t sure what to write in your LinkedIn status then look to those whose work you respect.
Simply be smart and curious when investigating new methods of communication. Don’t let the number of options intimidate you. Even if it means sticking to the standards – phone call or face-to-face meeting- if you follow these rules you will improve the chances your message will actually be heard.