Here are some tips from Wall street bestseller Erica Dhawan’s latest book, ‘Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance’ to help you ace your digital interactions with prospects.
When relationships are mediated by screens, valuing visibly becomes all the more important. Valuing visibly means not assuming people are “okay”. Instead, it means being proactive about explicitly showing you understand their desires and value their participation.
As Erica Dhawan puts it, “Reading carefully is the new listening” so step numbero uno is to make sure you pay attention to what your prospect is trying to convey in texts and only then respond. While writing, do the little things. Check your tone, and think about how your message may be perceived.
Communicating carefully means getting to the point while considering context, medium, and audience. In other words, when sending messages, say what you mean and state what you need in terms of clear CTAs – thereby eliminating frustrating ambiguity in your messages.
Make your messages scannable. For long messages, use bullets, sub headings, white space, highlights and bold text. Present your prospects with options like, “Do you think we should do A, B, or C?” instead of asking open-ended questions like “What do you think about this?” or “Thoughts?”
Brevity creates confusion
Messages that are too long can seem boring, while messages that are too brief can create digital anxiety.
When writing to your prospects, always ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my message clear?
- Is there another way that the recipient might interpret my message?
- If my message is confusing, is there another medium and style I could use to convey it more clearly?
- Am I coming across as terse, vague or rushed?
“Communicate your mind” mindset
It is vital to create a fair balance between written content and visual graphics when sharing your ideas with others.
Ideally, your goal should be to ensure your prospect is neither overwhelmed with too many visuals nor bored with an essay load of content.
Assume the best intent
Erica Dhawan observes most people don’t reveal themselves all at once. Instead, they show themselves slowly, bit by bit. But there is nothing more encouraging than a person who listens intently and engages honestly.
Migrate from phony to authentic communications. Reference back to your prospect’s website, blog posts and assess what the company needs. With every scrap of detail, you begin to develop trust and build credibility.
Find your voice
Last but not the least, do not be afraid to inject some personality into your messages. Real-world body language translates on screen into words, punctuation, timing, and choice of medium. Be mindful of the countless ways the words you type can be misinterpreted by the receiver and gain control over those words before you click Send.
Dhawan recommends the below list as a primer to your digital interactions:
- Priority = Choice of medium
Choosing the best medium to use – email, messenger, phone or text- is important and depends on context. She says switching between channels can indicate a shift in the urgency of the message- or even denote the closeness of a relationship.
- Emotion = Punctuation and symbols
As your computer screen filters out most non verbal cues (facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, pitch) and thus strips away many of the qualities that make us human— punctuation and emojis are all that we have to rely on.
You can use exclamation points when you want to say something extra loudly or even extra excitedly. As Will Schwalbe points out, “The exclamation point is the quickest and easiest way to kick things up a notch”. That said, it is always safer to err on the side of minimalism with emojis and exclamation points to keep the tone professional.
While immediacy is an important virtue for most businesses, you must not prioritise immediacy over a thoughtful response that can be all the more valuable.
Digital conversations are often asynchronous, meaning that your prospect and you aren’t necessarily having a conversation in “real time.” This gives you more control over when and how you respond, but at the same time, do not wait too long to respond as the gaps in response time can produce anxiety on the receiver’s end.
- Inclusion = To, Cc, Bcc, Reply All
Erica explains the importance of these fields using a sports metaphor.
Think of an email as a sporting event she writes. You and whoever else in the “To” box are the athletes. Not CCing or BCCing anyone means you are just practicing, rallying before a match. When you add observers to the “Cc” line, you invite other people to fill the stands. “Bcc” means you are swelling the VIP box seats with scouts, coaches and recruiters. At this point, the game starts to happen.
In other words, use these form fields to create inclusion with your organisation and that of your prospect.
- Identity = Your Digital Persona
Your digital persona has 4 main components: Your name, Your (work) email address, Your profile picture and your search results. To ensure a professional front, make sure to keep your LinkedIn updated and your digital presence as authentic as possible. The aim is to ensure that your prospect feels confident enough when engaging with you.