What is Communication? A Complete Guide
Natalie Ediger, September 10, 2019· Communication
Communication is omnipresent in our society. Today, more than ever, we communicate constantly and everywhere. Of course, this also applies to companies. In the context of digitalization, internal and external communication is therefore also changing considerably.
New instruments are being added, the exchange of knowledge and information is becoming more direct, faster, more open and the role of the classic communicator from the PR and marketing sector is increasingly changing into that of the analyst, motivator, innovator and networker. Hierarchies in communication become blurred and employees inevitably become digital leaders who drive dialogue beyond their departmental boundaries.
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Under these conditions, how can it be possible to leave boundaries open for heterogeneous interests and consistent messages without negatively influencing the innovative strength, motivation, external impact and strategic ties of the business divisions? The key to these new challenges in corporate communications is new communication concepts that meet the demands of today’s world.
We have analyzed and summarised for you how classic aspects of communication can be reconciled with the new challenges, which hurdles, instruments and concepts play a central role in corporate communication and which trends, problems and tips result from this for communication.
This will give you a comprehensive picture of what communication in general, in the corporate context and in the context of digitization means today. Above all, however, you will recognize the potentials and opportunities that result from optimal communication work in the company.
Basic types of communication
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What exactly is communication? The communication scientist Paul Watzlawick describes them in his principles as follows:
“You can’t not communicate. Every communication has a content and a relationship aspect. Every communication (not only with words) is behavior and just as one cannot not behave, one cannot not communicate”.
This applies at least to direct communication because even when a woman – to stick with Watzlawick’s example – stares at the floor in the doctor’s waiting room and says nothing, communicates. She tells the other waiting people that she doesn’t want to communicate. Communication is therefore divided into verbal and non-verbal aspects.
Verbal communication – as in the form of language – is the most important form of communication. In everyday professional life, it takes place in the form of staff discussions, speeches, group discussions or in the form of daily gossip. In verbal communication, a distinction is made between oral and written communication.
**Oral verbal communication
**In recent decades, oral communication has expanded significantly through telephone conversations, video conferencing and voice messaging. In contrast to purely written communication, it is based on direct feedback from the other party. This applies to both digital and analog, i.e. face-to-face communication. In the area of digital voice messages or telephone calls, the degree of distortion can increase with the number of people, which can be explained by the filter theory, which assumes that a reduction in the number of channels leads to a loss of information. The reason is the lack of important non-verbal components of communication. This phenomenon is intensified in exclusively written communication.
**Written verbal communication
**Written communication, which has clearly increased in the digital age through e-mails, social media, and instant messengers, is also regarded as a verbal form of communication because it is language. However, all non-verbal aspects are missing, even those that are still present in the spoken language. This leads to an additional reduction in channels, especially in anonymous communication via the Internet, so that a leveling effect can occur, which reduces social inhibitions and hurdles. Here positive effects such as increased openness, flexibility and friendliness occur, as well as negative effects in the form of increased hostility or misrepresentation of one’s own person.
Non-verbal communication plays a central role in people’s social behavior. Non-verbal signals range from facial expressions, gaze behavior, gestures and body movements to body contact, clothing or even smell and vocalization.
In purely oral and purely written verbal communication, the majority of these signals are lost due to channel reduction. A distinction is made between conscious, controlled non-verbal signals and unconscious signals. Even in a telephone conversation, uncontrolled signals such as a tremor in the voice can give a completely different meaning to what is being said. Gestures and other non-verbal signals between different cultures sometimes differ significantly from each other. In addition, there are large individual differences between the personality traits of people. For example, extroverts or people trained in rhetoric and communication send out completely different non-verbal signals than an introverted person, who may also come from a different cultural background.
In summary, taking these findings into account, it can be said that it is particularly – but not exclusively – important for internationally active companies and people to know and understand the various aspects of non-verbal and verbal communication through social competence training. Non-verbal signals help us to better assess the other person and to better evaluate the verbal, content-related aspects of communication. In the absence of non-verbal signals in purely written communications (e.g. by e-mail, messenger or letter), channel reduction makes it much more difficult to understand what is written as the author intended.
The importance of communication in the modern age
In connection with the digital age, one also speaks of the communication age, since we are constantly networked, exchange information and communicate with each other. But it is precisely at a time when oral communication is increasingly being replaced by written communication that the great importance of the spoken word should be reconsidered.
In daily communication via e-mail, messenger, social media, etc., non-verbal communication aspects are faded out and the exchange is broken down into purely content-related aspects; just like a letter. Fine nuances of our language, empathy or even rhetorical subtleties fall victim to filters or are even missing completely. This inevitably leads to the fact that misunderstandings and/or wrong interpretations of the written increase.
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This may not play such a big role in digital everyday communication or in the exchange with friends in our free time. However, when it comes to building relationships with team members, superiors, employees and new contacts, the non-verbal level is becoming increasingly important. This is particularly true at a time when a direct conversation is becoming increasingly rare. Wherever the focus is not on the professional or content exchange, personal, direct communication is gaining in importance.
Communication via tools, online and on social media
Both in our professional and private lives, we increasingly communicate via messaging services, e-mails, forums or other digital platforms. Although emojis are increasingly used here as a substitute for non-verbal elements of language, it should not be forgotten that the form of communication is completely different here. We often communicate in so-called conversation threads, which are taken up and continued again and again. In between, we do not communicate at all – from a purely digital point of view. This makes digital communication fundamentally different from direct communication, in which there is always a clearly definable beginning and end.
Communication in a personal conversation
Factors such as empathy, gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice, voice fluctuations and, last but not least, gut feeling – the olfactory component – are only taken into account in personal conversations. All these factors come together exclusively in direct, personal contact. As a result, even in the digital age, trust in a person is best established through direct conversation. This applies to the private sector as well as to the professional and corporate context.
The shortened communication, the omission of punctuation marks, the permanent accessibility or also the partly cryptic contributions with abbreviations by character restrictions in SMS or Twitter contributions can lead to the fact that misunderstandings increase and the kind of our communication changes. But the way we use language also has a considerable influence on our orientation and thinking. This linguistic assumption – called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – comes from the linguists Benjamin Whorf and Edward Sapir. We should therefore not forget to also reflect online on our mode of communication and to become aware of the communicative shortening in digital channels. It can help to give the written text a little more time again and to choose the words more consciously. This can help to improve continuity, reliability, and trust in our business partners.
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Communication has a decisive influence on corporate culture and, in addition to the transfer of knowledge and information, is also an important factor in employee motivation. Continuous dialogues with employees, colleagues, and customers make a decisive contribution to being goal-oriented and transparent. But how can this be achieved in an increasingly dynamic digital age? In order to find this out – tailored to your company – the current situation in the company must first be considered.
Internal communication in a company means communication between employees, managers, and owners. It primarily serves the (preferably unfiltered) flow of information as well as the regulation of organizational processes and systems. The starting point should always be the company management, because ultimately the type, scope and good systematization of the communication instruments have a decisive influence on the corporate culture. This applies to top-down as well as bottom-up and horizontal communication.
In many companies, the benefit of internal communication does not play a direct role, but communication takes place uncontrolled. For the establishment of dialogue-oriented communication, however, it is of decisive importance that the benefit is firmly anchored in the thinking of the management personnel in particular.
Instruments of internal communication in the company
In internal communication, a distinction is made between oral, written and digital instruments. Communication instruments can be for example:
Protocols, handouts, and notes
Intranet with blogs, wikis, etc.
Instant messaging tools
Social media channels in closed groups
Informal conversations between employees
Software-supported communication and feedback tools
Problems with the digitalization of internal communication tools
With the variety of different instruments and the constant accessibility, in particular through software-supported communication systems, today there is usually much more communication than twenty years ago. On the one hand, this has the advantage that communication becomes more transparent, more direct and faster, on the other hand, it has the great disadvantage that more and more information converges and it becomes more difficult for the individual to filter out relevant information and distinguish it from irrelevant information.
If the flood of information through various instruments is too large and confusing, this can lead to various problems in the medium term – irrespective of the communication model:
Employees spend too much time filtering information and processing requests.
Due to a lack of moderators, consistent information and messages do not emerge from the creative chaos.
New digital communication architectures such as software-driven tools meet with rejection or are used incorrectly or too much or too little.
Communication pools are created within departments and interdepartmental communication decreases. A silo mentality develops.
The time required to find relevant information and contacts is increasing instead of decreasing.
The levels of communication become blurred (keyword four-sides model) and misunderstandings can increase.
The archiving and storage of call data pushes call partners into the background and inhibit employees from actively participating in the dialogue.
External communication takes place between companies and customers, suppliers and the state, other public organizations, and creditors. In the digital age, the external view of the company is increasingly being incorporated here, because the company no longer communicates via social networks, the company website or other platforms only via direct customer and supplier contact, but also passively via appearance and external address.
Communication and marketing interlock seamlessly in external communication, because the company’s target groups want to be reached with a predefined strategy and implementation with the desired messages. Accordingly, strategic press and public relations work plays a central role in external communication. The more effectively external communication is structured, fewer resources are required to implement a communication concept.
Instruments of external corporate communication
In external communication, there are a number of instruments that allow for different types of speech. The choice of instruments, therefore, requires close cooperation between the PR and marketing departments and the company management. All available instruments shape the perception of the company as well as its corporate identity and credibility.
Print media such as newspapers, magazines, brochures, and flyers
Online media such as blogs, forums, newsletters, email, social networks, and the website
External presentation in radio and television
In contrast to internal communication, strategic aspects play a much more important role because negative aspects of communication such as a lack of customer service, a thoughtless statement in an online article or an unfriendly attitude spread very quickly, especially via social media. A notorious shitstorm can be the result, which can have fatal consequences if one is not prepared as a company for such a case and cannot react fast and appropriately.
Changing external communication in the age of digitalization
In the 21st century, the use of new digital media is more important than ever for external communication. It offers the possibility of maintaining a direct exchange with the customer, building relationships and thereby increasing customer loyalty. At the same time, however, it also requires that roles be redistributed, the communication concept adapted and the way of addressing people rethought. Today nobody wants to wait two days for the answer to a social media article because the contact person first has to secure himself internally in the company and prepare a suitable answer. As Andreas Winiarski, the expert for digital transformation, aptly put it: “Corporate communication must not only master the digitalization of communication but increasingly also the communication of digitalization. The role spectrum of communicators is constantly expanding, and instead of the unctuous words from the PR department for which no one is waiting today, communication with customers and communities at eye level is becoming increasingly central.
Communication today is much faster, more direct and more open. The one-dimensional speaker role of the former PR communicator has long since developed into a multidimensional management function. Anyone who has not yet recognized this should reconsider and adapt their external communication concept as quickly as possible.
In spite of all the changes in the context of digitization, it must not be forgotten that technology, new channels, and digital tools are only bare architecture. Without people who live and feel comfortable in it, new tools quickly degenerate into unused ruins. This applies equally to internal and external communication.
In short, we need to move from communicators to moderators, networkers, and innovators who are able to actively participate in communication across hierarchies and business units. It is important that both internal and external architectures are useful to employees, customers, and others. Because the change in communication is not only a technological change but rather a change in our cooperation.
Using strategically clever concepts and instruments, communication can make a decisive contribution to sustainable corporate success. In order to achieve this, it is particularly important in internal communication to reduce fears and to promote further training and motivation among all those involved. But how can this be achieved with the help of a suitable concept?
How can communication be improved through concepts and instruments?
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When developing a communication concept that is suitable for the company, the focus is first of all on an analysis of the current situation with regard to both the internal and the external communication concepts. Although many companies already have an extensive briefing on the subject of communication, when developing a new communication concept it is of crucial importance to check the subjective status quo of the briefing again with the question of “Why?
Ask yourself why you communicate the way you do today and why your company is exactly where you are today. Take a close look at existing communication structures in your company and check how well new messages, in particular, are received and communicated. If there have already been communication measures in the past, these should also be included in the situation analysis; what was the result like and what is the prevailing picture among the internal and external dialogue groups?
External communication concept
The external communication concept is the most important component of public relations and press work. For implementation, strategic factors such as knowing and reaching the predefined target groups or the message to be conveyed must be clear. It can be understood as a framework for any external communication; brings factors such as the company’s guiding idea, which is oriented towards marketing and corporate goals, in line with the company’s philosophy, economic planning and controlling; must, therefore, be far more than a concept on a piece of paper that gets dusty in the filing cabinet after completion.
In this section, we will give you valuable tips for creating an external communication concept: what does it consist of, how is it developed and what is its concrete purpose?
Building blocks and contents
The development of an external communication concept is preceded by three phases.
**The first step towards a new external communication concept is a detailed as-is analysis. Although communication is closely related to the philosophy and personal nature of your company, emotions are out of place in this first step. Collect the relevant data, facts, and figures from which you can draw conclusions. A well-founded SWOT analysis is a suitable and proven tool for this, as it takes into account the current positioning in the market.
**The target groups already mentioned above play the central role. Highlight the USP of your company or a new product for the relevant target group(s) and develop appropriate messages and core statements in conjunction with the conclusions of the as-is analysis. In contrast to situation analysis, creativity is required here.
**The developed core statements must be integrated into a strategy. In accordance with your corporate identity (CI), appropriate time and budget planning are carried out and the advertising agency or marketing department should also be involved at this point at the latest.
Concept development as an agile process
When the building blocks, your positioning, and the core contents or guiding principles are clear, the actual concept development begins. It is crucial to align the insights gained with the creative ideas, the appropriate tone of voice for your target group(s), your company and the product with the preferred channels.
The as-is analysis and the target determination form a unit as an analytical phase. The corresponding messages and guidelines are only developed in the strategic phase, which builds on the knowledge gained. This strict separation is absolutely necessary in order to keep subjective impressions away from objective findings.
In the following operational phase, it must be determined which channels (social media, TV, radio, print media, blogs, and websites, etc.) are to be used and which carriers are to be considered.
With the development of the concept, the process is by no means complete. At least as important is the subsequent quality control, which is called the controlling phase. For direct mailings and social media campaigns, for example, this can be done very easily via the response rate, and press releases or communication on channels such as radio or television can also be easily done via various media observer services. If necessary, a final survey among the target group makes sense.
We deliberately speak of the “subsequent” quality control and not the “final” quality control, because the knowledge gained from it should be incorporated into the next concept development. The entire process is therefore designed as an agile cycle. This is imperative, as expectations and requirements of the target group as well as the current market situation change much faster than they did two or three decades ago.
Complex problems and circumstances must be dealt with quickly, communicated easily and dealt with. At this point, for example, we often work with our clients to develop simple explanatory videos and infographics that support external communication, ensure a consistent approach and can be easily adapted to changing circumstances afterward. Accordingly, it makes sense from an organizational point of view to use guidelines for agile project development, such as Scrum or Kanban model as a guideline for organizational design.
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Internal communication concept
In contrast to the external communication concept, internal communication also increasingly revolves around the value-oriented corporate culture. Communication serves to provide rapid information, motivation and the important transfer of knowledge and information as well as a continuous dialogue between employees and management levels. In this way, it supports the organization and sets the framework for behavior management.
Formal internal communication must be harmonized with external communication in order to build continuity and credibility in personal discussions with customers, partners, the press and other companies.
The four pillars of internal communication
Basically, there are four main aspects or pillars on which internal communication should be built.
Information – The exchange of information is relevant to all those who have dealings with the company. It must be streamlined within departments or strategic units so that relevant information can reach the desired recipient as quickly as possible. The other three pillars cannot function without efficient information sharing.
Dialogue – Dialogues are a central component of a good communication concept. Information is not only communicated, but reactions and the exchange about mediated contents are explicitly desired. Both in teams and between employees and management team, dialogues on the communicated contents should be accelerated.
Motivation – If the internal communication in the company is open, transparent and characterized by dialogues, not only the employee fluctuation can be reduced, but also the motivation can be increased. Knowledge can be retained within the company and the satisfaction of every employee increases if an open, credible and direct dialogue is promoted at eye level across departments and levels.
Knowledge transfer – Knowledge and insights can only be used sustainably for the success of a company if they are continuously communicated. If motivation, dialogue, and information exchange are not well structured in the company, employee turnover is higher and the probability of important information and knowledge leaving the company is greater.
Instruments of internal communication
The content of the internal communication concept should always be based on the external concept. Only if strategic planning, mission statements, and internal communication are brought into line, can a high level of credibility, trust, and continuity be created, which ultimately pay off in the form of higher motivation, loyalty, and satisfaction. The choice of the right instrument is decisive for the conceptual design of internal communication in this area – in addition to direct, transparent and open communication.
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While 15 years ago information and newsletters, as well as employee magazines and the famous bulletin board, were used mainly to communicate information, the instruments have increasingly shifted due to the digital transformation. Employee magazines, circulars, and notices were replaced to the greatest possible extent by newsletters and the intranet. In addition, it is advisable to summarise well-founded knowledge and information in the form of wikis in order to be able to collect relevant statements, information, and findings at a central location. At the same time, internal blogs, messaging tools and chat services have established themselves as platforms for cross-departmental, internal dialogue. On the one hand, such services help to reduce the volume of e-mail and at the same time shorten communication channels. In small businesses, for example, Slack or Skype are often used as universal messaging tools.
Another important tool – as a counterpart to surveys and surveys to gain knowledge in external communication – are tools for employee feedback. Anonymous feedback tools are a welcome addition to all chronologically sorted and always available written conversations. They can help to identify potential sources of dissatisfaction and errors more quickly and also help to keep employee satisfaction at a high level. Both are fundamental for good internal communication.
The right communication tools
In order not to overload employees and not to build up digital ruins that nobody uses, a company should limit itself to a maximum of three central instruments. It is important to define which information should be communicated via which tools in order to achieve a clear demarcation. If all channels need to be constantly searched to find out which channel was used to transmit the summary of the last team meeting, this is a clear sign that the demarcation is not clear enough.
If a new tool is introduced, it is also crucial that the management level exemplifies channel usage and motivates employees to do the same. Of course, an introduction to the tool is also essential for all employees, otherwise, misunderstandings or features used by fasch can quickly lead to a negative attitude. Here simple graphic recordings and explanatory videos can help to support a uniform and consistent mediation because if the content is unnecessarily complicated, the introduction of a supposedly simple tool or product can quickly fail.
The larger a company, the more important it is to have a single point of contact for relevant information. Today, this is the internal intranet in most large corporations. In smaller companies, on the other hand, cloud service providers, internal wikis in the mold network or software-supported tools are more frequently used. The sooner you start collecting relevant information, the better. Ultimately, productivity can also be significantly increased in small companies if information and contacts can be found more quickly and easily.
Trends in internal communication
Young start-ups with agile organizational structures and flat hierarchies communicate differently than most classic companies. This starts with the dozen and ends with the choice of communication instruments. Social bars and coworking places are particularly booming at all times, with frequent home office work. Due to more flexible working hours and more personal responsibility, tools for topic management and self-organization are being used more and more frequently by employees, and mobile apps for internal communication are also being used more and more frequently. This means that even employees without a fixed PC workstation can be reached without problems, which significantly increases flexibility.
A decisive trend is also content with expressiveness, closeness, and emotions. The old-fashioned company motto is replaced by moving image content, which conveys messages and makes the corporate goals and corporate culture tangible.
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These changes show that the era of bulky processes and system solutions is over. People seek the path of least resistance in achieving their goals. Small tools like a messenger offer significantly more usability, real-time communication and digital access – anywhere, anytime. Large newsrooms, complex and cumbersome software architectures at a fully-loaded desk are the exact opposite. Agile structures are on the advance and demand fast and visual tools in connection with increased self-organization of each individual. New communication concepts make exactly that possible.
A decisive trend is also content with expressiveness, closeness, and emotions. The old company motto or classic product presentations are being replaced by moving image content, image videos, graphic recordings and explanatory videos that convey messages, guiding principles and benefits and make corporate goals and culture tangible.
Modern internal communication in practice
Teams and structures are becoming increasingly agile. This means that changes must be responded to more quickly and communicated internally accordingly. As a result, tailor-made solutions are booming. Using modern software solutions and apps, content can be forwarded in a personalized and targeted manner. This ranges from push messages and conference functions to chat functions and the connection of collaboration tools.
Thanks to modern cloud services such as IBM’s hybrid cloud solution, virtual machines, reporting tools, and social intranet, content, and information are increasingly accessible from anywhere and can be seamlessly integrated into project management apps such as Slack, Asana or Trello. The integration of e-learning content, digital working time and vacation planning as well as extensive internal and external feedback tools such as kununu help to harmonize internal and external communication and generate a decisive benefit for employees and thus also for the company.
Errors to be avoided in internal communication
When implementing new tools and developing concepts, there are some pitfalls that you can avoid in advance. The five biggest mistakes that you should consider when developing a concept are briefly summarized here.
Incomplete, late and incorrect information – Construct the channel structure in such a way that your employees are always informed first. Facts should never be distorted or deliberately misrepresented. In large companies, in particular, it is still common today for employees to feel offended because the information is passed on to employees through the media. Such a breach of trust must never occur in a modern communication concept.
Hierarchical structures are reflected in channel selection – If the transmission of information is based on hierarchical structures, something goes wrong. Respect and recognition have nothing to do with the position in the company. Similarly, there should be no unilateral channels used only by certain individuals to transmit information. This also includes the fact that the personal discussion with the superior does not only take place when criticism is hailing.
Competitive thinking prevails – If the communication concept does not create a sense of togetherness, rivalry and competition quickly develop between departments or teams. This can be effectively avoided by transparent and open internal communication at eye level, regardless of position or hierarchical structure in the company. Smaller companies have a clear advantage here because the structures are flatter, the relationships are closer and decisions can be perceived and supported by almost everyone to the same extent.
Feedback is not taken seriously – A feedback system, however good it may be, is useless if the opinion of each individual is not respected and observed. Through employee feedback, products and services can be continuously improved and the relationship between employees and the management level can be strengthened. If no dialogues take place and not all participants are adequately involved in decision-making processes, this quickly leads to resignation, dissatisfaction, and disregard.
Too many channels – If there are too many channels, which are also used incorrectly, this can quickly lead to inconsistencies in the working atmosphere and thus to a loss of motivation. If individual employees feel that they are not being informed transparently, centrally and clearly, misunderstandings arise. It is therefore very important to communicate all information and knowledge via the channels and instruments originally defined.
Internal communication as motivator and cornerstone of Corporate culture
Common values, norms, and attitudes should not only be communicated externally but also lived internally. Communication has a decisive influence on this. Only if common norms and values are credibly exemplified by all those involved in the company can they be internalized and become a common mission statement that leads to consistent and transparent communication, both internally and externally?
A successful internal communication concept therefore not only includes an efficient transfer of information but also regular feedback and development meetings in both directions. In addition, open discussions among all employees must be encouraged and cooperation within the team strengthened. If responsibilities, contact persons and availability are clearly communicated, motivation, satisfaction, initiative and innovative strength benefit to a considerable extent. This, in turn, helps to weld together and thus contributes to the sustainable success of the entire company.
Under no circumstances should you dismiss internal communication as a self-runner, because without clear guidelines and an openly lived error culture, competitive thinking quickly develops between departments and teams; knowledge is lost and one’s own corporate culture is not supported by every member of the company. Otherwise, unclear internal communication creates a corporate subculture within which the open and value-oriented corporate culture can no longer find a place.
Tips for communication in the digital age
In both internal and external communication, you should always pursue the goal of making the paths shorter and more direct. Digital media has made many things more fast-moving and more and more customers, partners and employees expect shorter response times and direct communication. An absolute no-go in the company is, for example, when employees learn about current developments from the press instead of directly via the company’s internal communication channels.
Written communication is becoming more and more important and has the decisive advantage that the communication process is traceable. If relevant information is additionally filtered out and collected centrally, it is not far from your own dynamic company Wiki.
Dialogs should replace, whenever possible, one-way communication. The possibility to ask questions is always a good way to ensure more openness, honesty, and transparency. It also contributes internally to bring the different levels of the organizational structure closer together.
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When it comes to external communication, it is becoming increasingly important to be credible and humane as a company as well. Standardized responses from the PR department, for example, tend to meet with rejection in social media, while direct dialogues at eye level are much better received by the community. At the same time, the balance between quantity and quality should generally be maintained in networking. To make hundreds of alleged business contacts on XING, Facebook & Co. or to gain new fans at any price is not always the right way. Often much higher conversions are achieved when the quality of the receivers is better. We can better achieve this through open and honest dialogues and target group-oriented speeches. This applies equally to contacts with customers, other companies and employees.
Also pay attention to the selection of a suitable medium, because the choice of the communication channel has a decisive influence on the course and outcome. Internally, for example, it makes an enormous difference whether recognition is ‘only’ given by e-mail, whether the contact is made by telephone or whether the direct contact is sought in the conversation. Appreciation and recognition should not be formulated in the form of an e-mail or SMS, because despite all hopes of saving time, the human component should not be neglected either. The need for rapid response is therefore not paramount.