September 20, 2010
Relegated to the "Junk Mail" Folder
I can break the communication habits of businesspeople down into four distinct groups: The Phoners, The E-Mailers, The Texters, and The Ignoramuses. I guess I would fall somewhere between a Phoner and an E-mailer - if time isn't of the utmost consideration, I'll e-mail. If a response is needed quickly, I always pick up the phone. Unfortunately, the impersonal nature of non-verbal communication has some very important downsides.
(As an aside, the group I call Ignoramuses never bother to pick up a phone, return an e-mail, and God forbid they ever provide you with a cell phone number...you might actually reach them this way. I despise the Ignoramuses, and it's no mistake their name sounds like a dinosaur: They too will eventually be extinct.)
Three weeks ago, we purchased one REO (real estate owned) property from a bank in Dallas, Texas. Coincidentally, my business partner was scheduled to be in Dallas a few weeks later (this week, in fact) to attend a default servicing conference. I e-mailed my contact there and asked her if she would be willing to meet with my partner to discuss future business.
I waited a few days but never got a response from her. I thought it strange, considering she had always being quite responsive when we were negotiating the property purchase; all of a sudden I was getting the silent treatment. I e-mailed again, thinking maybe she had forgotten to respond. Again, not a peep in return. I looked through all our past correspondence and realized I didn't even have a phone number for her, so e-mail was my only option.
Last Friday, I made one last-ditch attempt to arrange a meeting. In my e-mail, I implored my contact to at least give me the courtesy of a response, even if it was in the negative. Not five minutes later she called, apologizing profusely.
Turns out my first two e-mails had gotten filtered into her 'junk mail' folder. When she saw my third e-mail and my frustrated tone, she looked through the junk folder and found my first two e-mails. She said she would be happy to meet with Matt, and will be doing so a little later today.
As I mention in the teaser to this blog, this is not the first time this has happened. Same thing, similar circumstances, occurred about four months ago. The first time I wasn't so convinced by the 'junk folder' story, but this most recent event will force me to consider this as a possibility when my other party goes 'missing', rather than simply categorizing the supposed offender an Ignoramus.
My word to the wise: In order, here are my preferred methods of communication - you would do well to adopt a similar priority:
Face-to-face - nothing better than looking your contact in the eye. There is little room for misunderstanding, and it's the easiest way to build trust for both parties.
Phone - more impersonal than face-to-face, but everything that needs to be said can be, and again, a good way to build trust and rapport.
E-mail - convenient, yes. Potential for miscommunication or misunderstandings? Absolutely. If you develop a business relationship via e-mail, always try to secure the party's phone number...just in case.
Texting - more convenient and real-time than even e-mail. Ripe for misunderstanding (especially for the older generation and the unfamiliarity with texting lingo). Some will resort to texting because they don't want their conversations memorialized. For this very reason, I always save all business-related texts on my phone.
Ignoring everyone - do this only after you have decided you have no business being in business, and want potential business partners to cease all attempts at deal-making with you and your company. As part of this process, you'll likely need to figure out where to apply for food stamps.
Good communications make for good business. Bad communications make for bad blood. Remember - phones and computers were created to help facilitate communication, NOT TO REPLACE IT!
Make it a great week.
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