By “channeling” our messaging activities with these tools, we can start to stem the tide of the ever-growing inbox. Here are a few examples of how you can use tools other than email to channel your communications and streamline your communication processes:
Facebook: Nearly all of your correspondence with family/friends can now be done with Facebook, and by moving all of your family/friends communication to Facebook, you’ll probably greatly enhance the quality of your messages with your family. With all the status updates, pictures, picture tagging, one-to-one as well as one-to-many messaging, Facebook is a really great tool, and it can greatly reduce your email inbox clutter.
Forums: Forums are a great tool to communicate with large groups of people with similar interests. With the over 600 consultants in The Sleeter Group network, our Yahoo! Group forum is the most efficient way for members to communicate with each other. We also have local Meetup groups across the country, and scheduling meetings and managing invitations and RSVPs are all done with the Meetup.com website tools.
LinkedIn: When I want to reach out to my network of business connections, I can quickly get to them using LinkedIn. LinkedIn also has Forums that some feel are superior to the Yahoo! Groups.
Twitter: Sometimes you just want to broadcast a short message and have thousands of people see it instantly. Twitter is a great tool for that. Not only can you reach broad audiences, but you can also read the latest news flashes from a broad spectrum of people or groups you want to “follow” on Twitter.
Instant Messaging: At our company, the staff lives on IM. We use IM very carefully, but for those short messages like “Sherrill’s on line 1” or “the server is down,” IMs are a great resource.
Telephone: Oh yeah, what about the good old telephone call? So many of us have gotten so out of the habit of using the phone that it’s become somewhat of a foreign concept to consider just calling instead of sending an email. But the phone is still a very valuable tool, and I think we all need to consider using it more. So many misunderstandings caused by poorly written email could get resolved or be prevented altogether if someone would just pick up the phone.
With all of these new technologies, it’s a bit daunting to wade through it all and decide which tools you’ll use, and exactly how each will contribute to your overall effectiveness. But it’s time well spent to think through your processes and update your tools to make sure you’re remaining ahead of the curve. As a leader and successful consultant, you must stay in touch with how your current and future clients will want to work with you. Once you get to a place where you’ve compartmentalized your messaging into the channels discussed here, you’ll be on the road to streamlined, happy client relationships. In a future column, I’ll continue this thread by discussing how “collaborative” efforts start with channeling your messaging in meaningful, useful ways.
Oh, I almost forgot to say: Don’t forget about those in-person meetings! All of these technologies are just assistants to us, and will NEVER replace the value of the occasional face-to-face, in-person meeting. On that note, I hope to see you all, in person, at our 2011 Accounting Solutions Conference in Las Vegas, November 7-9, 2011 (www.sleeterconference.com).