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Doing Business Digital Way
Keeping in contact is important in business to enable growth and success and today’s digital world offers precise and effective opportunities for doing just that. But do the myriad of communication choices put you into a spin? Experts say if you’d rather pick up the phone or send a simple email than come to grips with some of the latest developments in communication technology then you may be missing out.
By Sonja andErSon
Specialist in the former.
HaT is the best way to network and be friendly with those with whom we want to communicate, while at the same time protect privacy and
guard against identity pirates? and what’s wrong with picking up the phone or tapping out a simple email anyway? Has our struggle to keep up with all technology has to offer put us at risk of losing our human touch in the digital age? business information systems,
Luke Grange, says “no” to the last question and gives a comprehensive list of suggestions for
"We never underestimate the power of face-to-face communication but alternative digital contact means we can be close enough to people very far away to easily communicate with them on a daily basis if need be."
“We don’t have to substitute the new tools for old,” he said. “We never underestimate the power of faceto-face communication but alternative digital contact means we can be close enough to people very far away to easily communicate with them on a daily basis if need be.” Luke is founder of Knowledge Solutions, a company based in Cairns, with partnerships across the globe from Michigan to Melbourne. Most of his work is done without leaving the office, using internet access to replace a 747 jet and cyberspace instead of conference rooms. His brilliant smile flashes with just a touch of a challenge as he talks about marketing to buyers in Singapore and Malaysia by dialling into a webinar space.
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“Visualise a seminar room somewhere out in cyberspace; that is a webinar room,” he says. “all people involved in the meeting log in to this space and we exchange information online, through our computers.” Luke said a typical webinar meeting might include product representatives in California and Michigan giving information via the internet to potential clients gathered in a room in the Philippines. The effectiveness of such a meeting seems straightforward - a sale is made and a service rendered by never leaving the office, but Luke points to other advantages. “during the meeting I found that the presenter in California was speaking a little quickly and with an accent that may not be very well understood by my Filipino clients,” Luke said. He was able to send a text on the webinar line directly to the Californian presenter. “She slowed her delivery as a result of my words on her screen and no one else was distracted at all by my communication with her.”
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"So many forms of digital communication that were available to larger corporations are now easily accessible by smaller businesses."
Other ways to communicate without leaving your desk Leaving home to provide a service overseas is not such a great option these days. Travel is hard on any business budget, on your body, family, staff and the environment. Cyberspace seems a great alternative. a webcam allows you to see and hear the person you are talking to through a computer. This method works office to office, city to city or across hemispheres, as long as you have connection to the internet. Voice over internet protocol or VoIP provides the ability to talk on the phone through your computer – for free. The telecommunication lines used by VoIP are the same as those used by transfer of information from computer to computer. It is a cheap way to place long distance and overseas calls. “So many forms of digital communication that were available to larger corporations are now easily accessible by smaller businesses,” Luke said. “VoIP is one of those access systems.” Email remains a popular and effective way to contact clients, friends and colleagues but, not everyone has the same writing skills or reading. Email lacks body language and the modulation of voice tones and for those who lack the ability to visualise, the message has to be made very clear. Unless the email composer is at least an adequate and more hopefully, an eloquent writer, the meaning can easily be lost. Email is also time-consuming and it may be best to analyse language skills when considering the most effective way to communicate. your time may be better spent using a webcam. Digital Networks: Do they work and how do they work? digital networking is the catchphrase of the new business acumen. networking occurs both socially and in business. When we meet face to face, we shake hands, offer greetings, divulge information and exchange cards. We expect people will value the information they receive about us and use it for future reference to the benefit of all parties in the exchange.
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digital networking is no different. Simply put, it is a way of networking with others via the internet. However the methods are varied and the way in which they work can be hard to decipher. In the past decade, new public digital forums have sprung up and as in all new systems of internet technology, the first stage of development is proliferation. MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn are a few. These forums are cyber-lounges – big server spaces in which you post your details and whatever personal information you want to reveal. It is important to know there are basically two types of networks – business oriented forums and friendly social networks. To ensure a user receives the best benefit for time invested, never confuse the reasons for their existence. Luke has invented his own acronyms to delineate them and how they can work for the participant. Collaborative Business Networks (CBN) is a network of professionals you have come into contact with in your working life. This forum requires you to join and create a professional profile of yourself on the site to be made available sequentially to other site members. your profile helps you find and be found
by former colleagues, partners, employers and clients. In turn, you invite colleagues and contacts to sign up and become part of your chosen online network. a personal network consists of your connections and each of their connections, eventually linking you to a vast number of qualified professionals. “These networks can also work against you,” Luke warned. “If you invite just everyone to your forum, you can dilute your CBn to the point where there are too many connections to follow.” an example of a CBn used as a powerful communication tool is Linkedin.com. a member should think before inviting someone to join and maintain contact with those in their set of connections on a regular basis. according to Luke, this is the way to use this digital tool. Friendly Social Network (FSN) is a circle of friends with whom you choose to share your personal life online. “It is a great way to maintain contact with family if you are living abroad or on an extended contract working away from home,” Luke said.
With forums such as Facebook and MySpace it is best to remember whatever is posted on a personal site by a participant becomes part of the public domain. Have fun but think first; once you invite someone to be one of your friends, they are privy to all the information you have listed. It is best to think carefully about the emotional consequences of giving information about others. you might consider some information a public matter; others may not. Most importantly, according to Luke, take charge and manage your digital forum participation. don’t confuse the inherent purpose of the two and never interchange them. Carefully consider why you want to join a digital networking forum and what you can contribute and receive from such membership. Think about what personal information you post and to what depth and sequence. don’t make yourself a vulnerable target. remember your manners. In face-to-face communication we observe forms of etiquette to ensure another’s comfort in our presence, preserve personal privacy and keep us exchanging social graces. digital communication is an expansion of in-person forms of communication. others are watching what you publish online and how you express it. Collaborative Business Networks (CBN) What they do for you: • ind potential clients, subject experts and F recommended project partners • nable you to be found by others offering E business opportunities • Let you search for and find good jobs • iscover connections for finding jobs and D clinching deals • Introductions to other professionals • Post and distribute job listings
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