The world today is filled with more opportunities to communicate than ever before. From email at your desk station to email by smart phone, to telephone calls. Every time you reach out and touch someone, all they know about you is what you send them. As Doug Fine has been heard to say: “Don’t make your first impression your last.”
I would add to this the idea that EVERY communication that emanates from you needs to be professional. There are no casual communications possible, even in person.
Like the Citizens Band radio that preceded it, those who pour out endless streams of communication feel that it is somehow okay to take short cuts. I suppose this is okay, but a lot depends on your purpose in communicating. Sure, if it is family and friends, no special precision is required. When the purpose is business, I would argue that if it comes from you, it had better be perfect. We are after all accountants. The columns must foot and the entries must balance.
Since most of my communications these days are in the form of email, I have developed a style for communicating with clients of The FECG that I will share with you. In the old days, I suppose I would have sent a package by Federal Express, but in today’s world, I send email. To make my correspondence look better, I start it like a business letter with the person’s given name, title, company name, and physical address, then I write “Dear Sam:” Sure, I could have started with “Dear Sam:” but I like to add a formal touch to what is clearly a business communication.
The same goes for spelling. I compose all of my important communications in Word and then paste them into my email. By writing in Word, I gain the advantage of Word’s superior editing capabilities, while at the same time guarding against my message going out prior to my completing it.
My outgoing signature (yes, there he goes again) appears on all of my original messages AND on my replies. It is as follows:
Matthew R. Bud
The Financial Executives Consulting Group, LLC
32 Gray’s Farm Road
Weston, CT 06883
(203) 227-8965 Office Phone
(203) 820-4667 Cell
(203) 227-8984 Fax
Notice how I provide the name I would like you to use when you call, and also that the numbers of my phone numbers line up. You would think all accountants would prefer this, but you would be wrong. I would also suggest that uppercasing and lowercasing as needed not only increases readability, but also adds a touch of precision.
With the spread of smart phones, I get somewhat abbreviated messages noting that this is where they came from. It is sort of an excuse for typos and such, I guess. It is possible to add an outgoing signature to a smart phone, and I would recommend that you do so. If it can’t be as long as your normal one, that’s okay. To not have one at all isn’t okay.
The telephone has been around for a while. You would think they would have improved it, but it is actually worse now. The commercial “can you hear me now” from a many years ago is indeed a cruel joke about cell phone coverage. Unless you are sure you have a good signal, exercise due care in who you call and what you call about. Certainly nothing REALLY important, like a telephone interview, should be done by cell phone. Hopefully someday this won’t be the case.
Know that you may not actually reach the other party when you call and think about how your own phone answering machine works. The beginning and the end are great places to repeat your name and phone number. The middle isn’t. Speak slowly and clearly if you actually expect to get called back. Practice by leaving a message on your own voice mail system and see if you like what you hear. And, yes, you do need to have your NAME on your voice mail systems where others might want to leave you a message. Those of you who have privacy concerns, I can’t diminish your issues, but merely suggest you keep your greater goals in mind.
Everything I see from you before we have met and I have had a chance to know you helps me form an image of who you are and whether or not you are a detail oriented individual. Make sure the impression I have is the one you want me to have.