We all know the importance of communication, right? It’s literally the most vital thing when you’re interacting with other people.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a romantic relationship, friendship, or business relationship, effectively communicating is downright essential.
The bonus of these in person scenarios, though, is that you can take cues from the body language of the other person. You can also pretty much ensure you get a response to any questions you have.
But when you take your business online, you lose so many of those easy communication elements. Working online is an entirely different world and it takes a certain finesse to make sure you’re communicating the message you want to put forward.
We thought we’d take some time to write out the essentials of communicating in your online business relationship.
There’s nothing worse than sending someone a message or a question and seeing they’ve read it – after all, since we’re online, you can see when your message has been read – and then not receiving a reply. A quick response saying “yep, I’ve got this – I’ll get back to you” can leave you with a better feeling than being blanked.
Not only can a lack of response cause some confusion between you and your client, it can lead to tension and unease – not to mention a delay in getting the work completed.
Ask questions and expect to clarify your answers
If you’re ever unsure of what it is your client is asking you – ask them. It’s not going to do either of you any favours if you just go ahead and do what you think they want, but it’s not what they actually want.
The same goes in reverse. Your client may have some questions for you. Step up and answer them in a way that a child could understand. I’m not saying to treat them like a child, but explain the answer the simplest way possible. You’ve been hired to do a job that your client can’t or doesn’t have the time to do, it’s likely you’ve got some knowledge and experience they don’t have and they don’t understand. Make it clear.
Be assertive but watch your tone
Because you communicate via text and sometimes emojis (I can’t help it, I’m a serial 🙂 sender), your tone can easily get misconstrued. I like to put forth a kind and compassionate tone at all times, even when standing by my point. It helps to keep the feelings light, even when the conversation is maybe a bit serious.
Set your boundaries and stick to them.
I can’t stress how important this is. Having “business hours” – times when you’re “in the office” is so important. For example, Thankful Cow Solutions’ office hours are Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm GMT, and unless we’ve marked ourselves unavailable or have told our clients we’re out, we make sure to respond to clients during these times.
Outside of these hours, however, though you might find yourself working (we’re all freelancers and entrepreneurs after all, sometimes it’s hard not to work all the time!) you don’t have to respond to client queries right away. This. Is. VITAL. It gives you time to switch off from business and your clients.. and your clients will have to respect these times.
When all else fails, set up a video call.
Sometimes, no matter how clear you’re writing or how many times you’ve sought clarity and understanding, there’s still a breakdown in communication.
Don’t panic – it happens to us all at some point or another!
Setting up a video call with Zoom, Skype, or even Facebook Messenger and seeing your clients face to face can often alleviate all discomfort and uncertainty, and hopefully relieve all your issues. You shouldn’t be afraid of asking for a face-to-face if you feel you need one and you shouldn’t be wary of having one with your client if they ask for it.
There you have it, my friends! Go forth with better communication.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about the article, please get in touch – drop us a message or leave a comment below!
Amanda Sloan is a Social Media Strategist at Thankful Cow Solutions. She’s a lover of restaurants, coffee shops, and nutrition. You’ll find her talking and writing about social media, vegan food, travel, specialty coffee, and positive mindset.