I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Twitter for relationships

When twittering, it is about conversations and building trust so why not be personal?
Tonight, I got multiple tweets within half an hour from someone I don’t know or follow. She was using a company name as user name but talking about the business as ‘they do the hottest websites’ etc. Here’s my response to her tweets…

  1. It’s not very personal to say they when she could have chatted to me about how she could help me – and it looked stupid for XYZ to say “see xyz.com – they do the hottest websites”. No credibility and she lost the opportunity to get to know someone (someone who had just posted about businesses needing good designers, too)
  2. She obviously hadn’t read my reply which said ‘ no thanks, I’m not looking for a designer’ as she kept telling me to look at this design company. She didn’t build my trust or respect at all.
  3. She made no attempt to have a real conversation with me. I twittered about not just using anyone to help with setting up a new website which would have been a perfect opening for her to agree, ask questions about why I tweeted that and perhaps give some tips on choosing a good designer. But she preferred to tweet me repeatedly with a sales pitch – and even a newbie to Twitter like me knows that rule #1 is don’t do a sales pitch!
  4. If you are going to take the time to respond to a stranger’s tweets, and send them a number of tweets, surely you could take a few minutes to look at their profile and get some idea of who they are or what they do? One of her tweets listed various industries ‘they’ have designed for – none were my industry so she missed another opportunity there by not targeting her spiel.
  5. note: we're sick of spamSending multiple emails telling me to ‘hit their website’ annoyed me (both in the repetition and in the terminology!) so I blocked her. Frankly, I considered her tweets to be spam and I don’t like being spammed.

In other words,  she actively lost a client by her actions so totally wasted her time. It would have been so easy to have written ‘we’ instead of ‘they’, and have a conversation with me.

Do you follow anyone who talks in the third person about their business?

I don’t know that she’ll had learnt anything by being blocked, but maybe someone reading this post will learn from her mistakes instead!

Writing office effective memos

Emails may be replacing inter-office memos overall, but the memo still has its place in many larger companies. Yet many memos (past and present) are not always treated with respect as many have been so poorly written or produced for the sake of having a memo.

So here are some tips to make your memos worth reading…

  1. keep it short – it is not a letter or a procedural manual.  A memo is about giving some important information quickly so get to the point and leave out unnecessary information
  2. remember that you are writing to colleagues not customers so it’s ok to write something like “see Sue for a copy” or “in the main foyer” as everyone will understand
  3. be personal – you know the people you are writing to so it doesn’t have to be very formal. “Call me”, “pop into my office” or “let me know” are much friendly than “don’t hesitate to call me” or “reply by fax”
  4. be polite and show respect, even if the memo is pointing out something negative. Compare “we need to improve customer service so…” with “you are all really bad at customer service so…”
  5. use personal terms – you, me, I, we – to maintain a connection with your readers
  6. be specific so staff know what is needed – “the renovations start on Monday so please clear your desk by 4pm Friday” or “reports are now due by 10am Tuesday” are clear and easy to comply with
  7. make it clear who is getting the memo – I don’t want to waste time passing it onto my team if they already have it but I also don’t want them to miss it; if it is sensitive, it helps to know who else is reading the information
  8. most importantly, don’t write a memo unless there is actually a need to do so – sending out lots of memos loses their effectiveness no matter how well you write them.

Of course, these same rules apply to important internal emails, too.

Have you received any really bad memos? What made them stand out as bad?

Is HR getting too personal?

Though they sound very similar the meanings of personal and personnel couldn’t be more different…

personal: belonging or relating to an individual
He went looking through my personal belongings

personnel: the people belonging to a group, such as employees of a company or members of an army division
The personnel of the company were happy

Business flexibility or constraints?

Obviously, there are many reasons behind people starting up a business rather than being an employee. But a common reason, or support for another reason, is the desire for flexibility.

I have heard “I hate working 9 to 5 so I started my own business” or words to that affect a number of times. And yet those same people may well find that running a business requires more than 8 hours a day, 7 days a week to be a success.

Valerie Khoo not only discusses this issue but gives some good tips on how to plan flexibility into your businessin a blog post last month. I think her most important point is the planning – you need to know what flexibility you want (or need) and then plan the business around that.

For example, one flexibility I want is to be able to go on school excursions with my daughters, especially while they are young enough to be excited by my presence! Therefore, I do not claim to be available during all business hours and my regular clients know I sometimes work at nights or weekends instead of during traditional business hours. One client had a deadline for an article last week when I was at the zoo so we agreed he could call me at the zoo and I would talk him through any technical issues. Flexibility.

I would find it much harder to go on excursions if I had a traditional office where people were encouraged to drop in for meetings.

Sometimes a compromise will be necessary to achieve the desired flexibility. For example, to only work 3 days a week you may have to accept earning less than if you worked 5 days a week or accept having staff or outsourcing more.

If you run a business, from home or elsewhere, do you have the flexibility you expected when you started? Would you like more flexibility in your life to do things other than business?

I would suggest you plan your ideal week, business and personal combined, and see how far it is from reality then look for ways you can move closer to the ideal.

Use your time wisely!

Personal or professional development

I remember some years ago, all employers had to provide training for all of their employees. Yes, some employers and employees didn’t take it seriously and some silly courses may have been undertaken, but I still like the concept of people constantly learning.

As an employer, training staff means they are learning and growing so will be able to their jobs better, and they will respect and value the fact that you care enough to provide such training.

Kylie at Tilda Virtual wrote about the importance of setting a training/development goal and sticking to it, and asked what our goals are in this area for 2008.

To be honest, I haven’t developed a training plan as such for myself. I am going to the Business Mums Conference in July, I read business blogs/magazines/blogs/articles when I can, and I look out at networking and other business events for ones that are relevant to me. Oh, and I am working towards my certificate IV in business (frontline management) and certificate IV in leadership support later in the year, although that has more to do with being a cub leader than a business owner!

Of course, the information I learn about each client, their business and sometimes their industry is development for me, too, but much harder to plan (who knows what industry my next new client will work in!) and not always directly transferable to other work I do.

But there has never been a rule that says business owners must provide training and development opportunities for themselves… And yet this is the group who probably has to cope with the largest number of tasks in different areas.

Kylie has me thinking now, so I will make some time to think of what skills I can and will develop this year. I know I won’t put a huge amount of time into training this year with a baby on the way, client work and family commitments!

How about you? Have you planned any personal development this year? Have you timetabled for it so it won’t slip aside when more urgent tasks arise?