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The Project Manager’s Most Important Quality

After two decades plus in industry and holding titles from salesperson to Veep and all points in between, I’ve been in charge of a project or 20. Yup, I’ve organized crews on the back of a diner placemat and produced MS Project Gannt charts as big as a middle-school blackboard just like you may have.  I have come to realize that there are many characteristics to getting stuff done and done right, on time and on budget, yet there is really only one that will keep you sane in the process. Read More…

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6 Steps to Spit-Shining Your Professional Resume

Professional Resume Writing need not be left to the thousands of consultants out there who will do it for you.  With a little effort and zero expense, you can improve your professional resume to give yourself a fighting chance in this hyper-competitive job market. Read More…

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Email Writing Refresher for Business Success

No discussion of business communication today would be complete without dealing with the most popular method of trading arguments today—email.  Email has replaced casual conversation as the most common means of exchanging business information, telling jokes, and spreading gossip.  Texting is giving it a run to be sure.  Whether the email you author travels the cyber-path if the Internet, or remains confined to your company intranet (internal network), there are six key things you should know about cyber-letter-writing so you can become truly productive on the job. Read More…

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Three Rules of Management Communication

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Communicating as a Leader in your company is to take a daily exam on life, and you’d better know the rules.  Fail that leadership communications test and you’ll wonder where the productivity went as your company pays for it in lost profits.

Two days ago I came home from the office feeling invigorated and alive.  Five minutes talking with my wife changed all that.  Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that I don’t like talking with my wife.  She was upset because of what happened to her at work, and after hearing about it, I was a bit miffed as well. 

My wife works at a part salary, part commission job selling advertising for a local publication.  She had gone to the office that day anticipating the biggest commission check of her career, and had left home in the morning salivating like one of Pavlov’s famous pooches.  Upon picking up her check, she found it a bit light and did some investigating.  As it turned out, the big guy had changed the commission plan overnight without telling the sales associates.  Read More…

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Customer Service Starts on the Phone: Telephone Training for Customer Service

“Hello!  Is anyone there?  Hello!”

“CCRRRSSSHHHH…ur order please.”

“Yeah, I’ll have the two cheeseburgers value meal , Dr. Pepper, no super size.”

(long pause)  “CCRRRSSSHHHH…thirty eight.  Please drive arou…”

“What?!”

“CCRRRSSSHHHH…thirty eight.  Next window plea…CCRRRSSSHHHH”

Although I was at a McDonalds, I could have sworn that clown head from Jack-In-The-Box was laughing at me.  This fast food drive-through experience may be familiar to you too.  Did you feel like an important cog in that establishment’s machine, or like a nameless, faceless number?  If you said the latter, you’re in good company.  I’ve got another question for you.  How would you like your customers and prospects to feel that way when they call your company?

Well, you know what?  In many companies, telephone answering skills are clearly lacking among those people paid to—you guessed it—speak to customers on the phone.  Many have never taken any formal telephone training for Customer Service.  Read More…

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Write to the Top in Business: 7 Steps to Better Business Writing

In the fast-moving environment we live in today, those who leapfrog to the top have great communication skills, and that means better business writing than the competition. You’ve heard the cliché, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Well, in business, you’d better be able to wield a pen or else you might just fall on your sword. In the Information Age in which we live, it’s a foregone conclusion that your ability to communicate is one of the most critical skills you can master. In business, you’ve got to communicate with clients, employees, suppliers, attorneys, consultants, maybe even legislators. In many cases you can express yourself orally and do just fine; however, you are dead in the water in business if you can’t get your point across in writing. Read More…

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Outgoing Voicemail Messages That Get Results

So why am I writing about Outgoing Voicemail Messages?  A while ago I published an article in various periodicals and online venues like AOL called “Leaving Voicemail Messages That Get Returned.”  Judging from the email I have received and how many websites have replicated that content, I came to the conclusion that this is a hot topic and republished that article in my SmartBlog post and online.  It makes sense to me to now share a follow-up on the use of voicemail, this time the proactive use of these hated systems in order to field incoming calls. 

You see, people have long hated speaking voice-jail because they know darn well they will be banished to digital purgatory, never to have a return to their calls again.  He who didn’t read my first historic (gimme’ some profs) article has become fed-up and won’t leave a message, either calling back when he can bug you in person or giving up entirely.  But this isn’t what you want, is it?  You’re an expert communicator, not a call screener who hides behind voice-veil.  You want the caller to leave a message that gets down to business quickly and makes responding easier than a closest to the pin contest against Tiger Woods.  Read More…

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Avoid Esoteritisms to Improve Professional Communication Skills

I’ll tell you something, readers, it’s funny.  The more successful we are in business today, the harder we are to understand.  If we don’t strengthen our professional communication skills and fast, we’ll become a society with the best communication tools the world has ever seen except no one will communicate effectively.  We begin to use esoteric, or industry specific, language when we communicate–industry jargon.  Euphemisms replace concrete concepts, and it seems that if one word is good, three or ten must be better.  Your challenge in business is to be a language self-surgeon, skillfully excising this cancerous discourse from your speech before you need chemo-therapy. Read More…

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Write to Persuade in Business: Better Business Writing in 5 Easy Steps

One of the best ways to lead, to persuade others to follow, is to master better business writing skills. Business needs to learn the art of persuasion in writing.  Imagine getting to work on a Monday morning after a long weekend.  You had to do your spring cleanup on the yard, pick your sister up at the airport, and to top it all off the baseball game you wanted to watch was blacked out in your area since it was sold out.  You’re looking at a full work week and you want to get off to a good start.  Your in-box is stuffed to the gills, so you begin to wade through it to find what the keepers are.  Someone has written you a letter that begins like this:

“Dear Sir or Madam:  I appreciate the fact that you must have a full business calendar.  If I could have but a few moments…”  This one goes in the circular file as you move on to the next piece of potential trash.

Here’s a question for you.  How would you like the author of that last letter to have been you?  It could be.  Your goal is to make your business writing come alive or, at a minimum, avoid boring him to sleep.  If you have a message, you want it to get read. Read More…

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Channels of Persuasion

Persuasion and listening are funny things.  I was on vacation in Ocean City, MD one summer with my wife and a few friends long before I lived at the beach.  We were golfing along the shore at a course called Eagle’s Landing—a pretty tough little public course.  It was hot and humid.  I was hitting the ball pretty well, but my wife wasn’t having a stellar day.  The temperature, course conditions, and cart path only rule were getting to her, and I had a feeling that I’d better clear out or risk her wrath.  I’d been down the road before of offering advice on her game, even when solicited, and didn’t want to get caught in that quagmire again.  Read More…

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