Networking, contacting, following-up and generally communicating with customers and prospects are all important and sometimes essential activities when focussing on business growth. However, at some point, this can degenerate into a more social intercourse focussing more on weather, hobbies, food or gossip than on important aspects of business.
Some social chatter is good for building relationships, but where do you draw the line? How can we work more effectively and more efficiently? Some estimates suggest that more than 20% of the day is spent in non-business activities, and that by far the majority of this non-business is chatter. This can occur in face-to-face meetings (networking or meetings with customers/prospects), on the phone (have you ever timed your calls and worked out the proportion of that time spent on business?) or in emails (less so here, but then again, how succinct are you?)
1. In any ‘phone call, what proportion of the time is spent talking about non-business issues?
2. In meeting people for the first time, how soon do you ‘get to the point’?
3. At subsequent meetings is this quicker or slower?!
4. If business is complete, how quickly can you ‘move-on’?
Are you happy with your answers?
THE RULE-OF-THUMB comprises two questions to ask yourself at any such encounter;
- Is this meeting/contact going to add value to my business?
- Is this helping to grow a good business relationship?
If it is ‘no’, keep it polite, but keep it short!
If your answer to the second is ‘yes’, then try to be succinct and business-like.
If it is ‘no’, then it is probably no more than an opportunity to socialise at best, gossip at worst.
Remember, your time costs money. Some chatter can be helpful, but too much ‘chatter’ can prevent you from finding and taking new business opportunities. If you can reduce this by even 10%, then you are likely to have recouped hours every month! Those hours, used wisely, can mean more sales, more business.
KEEP IT SHORT, THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS!