Effective Business Communication: A Guide for New Grads
I know plenty of vibrant, mature and talented young people. However, I often encounter plenty of recent graduates that don’t know how to communicate properly in the business world.
Effective business communication isn’t really taught in college and sadly, it seems there are a lot of young people who need education on this.
As thousands of college graduates enters the workforce in the coming weeks, I think it might help for them to have a guide about business communication etiquette. After all, how young people communicate with their friends is very different than what’s expected and accepted in the workplace.
Business Communication Tips
I asked my friends and colleagues to share their business etiquette and communication tips for Millennials and recent grads.
Whether you’re a recent graduate or have been in working for a few years, here are some business communication tips that will help you excel in the workplace:
- Check availability for meetings. Don’t set meetings (or show up to meet with someone) without setting a time first. Just because something works for you, doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. And, if you’re scheduling meetings with your team, check their calendar if you have access. That saves everyone a lot of time.
- Communicate changes. When you’re sick, running late or can’t make a meeting, let people know. Don’t make people wait for you because you failed to communicate a change in plans.
- Show up on time. The old adage still applies – if you’re on time, you’re late. Make it a practice to show up for meetings 5-10 minutes early. And, more importantly, don’t show up late.
- Dress appropriately. Understand your company’s dress code and take a cue from your colleagues. Don’t dress like you just rolled out of bed or like you’re going out to a bar. Be professional and put together – even if your company’s dress code is casual. After all, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
- Understand communication preferences. Find out how your company uses various forms of communication – phone, email and text. Every office is different. Some places are okay with texting, others aren’t. A good rule of thumb is to follow the lead of your boss and colleagues. When in doubt, ask! Don’t assume how people like to be communicated with.
- Use texting for short communication. If your company is okay with texting, use that for quick and timely communication. But, if your message is more than a sentence or two, send an email or pick up the phone.
- Use proper grammar. Don’t write emails like you text your friends. Use proper grammar, capitalization and punctuation in your communication.
- Don’t underestimate the handwritten note. Despite all of the technology available, going analog can be your best option. Handwritten notes can make a huge impact – whether it’s a thank you note after an interview or sales meeting.
- Give people proper attention. That means, make eye contact when you meet them. Give a proper handshake (not a limp fish one). Listen when others talk. And, by all means, don’t stare at your phone or type away on your computer during meetings.
- Know when to pick up the phone. There are some things that just can’t be solved via email or text. Don’t let email chains go on forever. And, don’t cop out by delivering bad news via text or email. Sometimes, it’s far more effective and efficient to pick up the phone or walk down the hall to get the answers you need or deliver important information.
- Give context. When sending an email, LinkedIn invite or making phone call, give people context for the conversation. Who are you? Why are you reaching out? What do you want? Provide that information for the most productive conversation.
- Use a professional email address. Especially if you’re looking for a job. After all, it’s hard to take firstname.lastname@example.org seriously.
- Drop the “like”. Avoid using filler language such as “like” or “um” during interviews and presentations. Keep your tone polished and professional.
- Put away your cell phone. Don’t use your cell phone during meetings. In fact, it’s better to put them away completely. Studies show that simply having a phone on the table can decrease the quality of our conversations.
- Be smart on social media. Even if you’re job isn’t in marketing, employers pay attention to your social media activity. That means, don’t complain about your job, your boss or your co-workers on social channels. And, you might want to keep your party habits to yourself.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I think this covers many primary business communication tips that would help a recent graduate get their career started on the right foot.
What business communication tips would you add?