I have a personal rule. No matter what my role in any organisation, I always make sure that I do one thing exceptionally well: I always do my best to get back to people.
It goes without saying that everyone can become very busy at times. It’s not always possible to return emails or phone calls straight away, I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of neglecting the odd response, but it makes a world of difference to your professional reputation if you do reply swiftly.
Here’s an example: if I email a supplier asking about their services, and I’m met with a wall of silence, I certainly won’t chase them up on the request. I’ll ask around some more and find someone else in the same space who seems more responsive and on the ball. If it’s a choice between a supplier whose website and services look great, but who never answered my enquiry and one who might not market themselves well but is quick to respond and helpful, it’s a no brainer. I’ll go with the person who values my business enough to pick up the phone or write an email.
Replying to an email or a phone call quickly connotes professionalism far more than any expensive website or marketing strategy. These simple acts of good communication give you a chance to demonstrate your ability to build a good relationship and to show off your expertise.
It’s even more important to continue to respond quickly to your clients and associates throughout the working relationship. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and you will quickly become known as someone who’s reliable and knows what they’re doing.
Even if you don’t have an immediate answer to a question, acknowledging that it was asked is more important than spending a long time sourcing an answer only to reply a week later. Notify the sender that you’ve received their email and are looking into their query – and establish a reasonable time frame for when you might get back to them. This may not be the immediate answer they need, but it gives them confidence in your ability to help them.
With more channels of communication than I can count on two hands, it isn’t difficult to quickly get back to somebody, even if just to say you’re very busy and will respond at a later date. If you’re easy to get hold of and to deal with, people will want to work with you again. And all it takes is an email!