Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 15th 2015 Contents Iwas greatly amused by a cartoon
recently that depicted two angels at
the gates to heaven. One was saying
to the other, "Have you noticed how
the new arrivals these days don t seem
to have much to say to each other, but
they all have this strange twitching problem
with their thumbs?"
While I may never see heaven s gates, these
days it s hard not to be concerned that in our
brave new world of texting, Snapchat, Insta-
gram, etc, it can be more difficult for entre-
preneurs and business managers to book meet-
ings or even to get a potential investor, supplier
or customer on the phone.
Don t get me wrong: There is no greater
advocate of social media than yours truly (by
the way, do say hello on Twitter, Facebook,
LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Vine!), but
for these sorts of platforms should enhance
our live conversations, not replace them entire-
ly; there s no substitute for making a new con-
tact than in person.
The mobile technology that has made it so
easy for us to communicate effortlessly across
great distances through one form of commu-
nication is threatening another, as phone calls
become more rare.
An example: a friend recently told me about
how his 17-year-old son became perplexed
one day because his best friend wasn t instantly
replying to text messages. "I know he s there,
so why isn t he responding?" the son declared.
When my friend suggested that perhaps his
son should "phone" his buddy, he was met
with derision. "Phone him? Are you kidding,
Dad? That would be so uncool!"
Uncool or not, when it comes to doing busi-
ness, the ability to conduct telephonic and
face-to-face conversations intelligently and
personably remains an essential asset, and
only comes with practice. Being capable of
confidently holding a conversation is as impor-
tant as making a confident, strong first impres-
sion on someone you want to do business
with. The value of such skills can never be
understated. In the meantime, you are assessing
your new business colleague; getting a sense
of his or her character and situation too.
It s not just your conversational skills that
need to be polished, if you want to succeed
in business: If you re looking to have a con-
versation, you ll need to be able to write and
send a stellar email and presentation, in order
to get that meeting.
Or if you re looking for a job, the recruitment
process also relies heavily on old-fashioned
writing skills, since catching the attention of
a hiring manager not only requires a nicely
qualified résumé, but also a well-written,
memorable cover letter; not much has changed
as far as that process is concerned.
And the truth is that for most job openings,
it s likely that a hiring manager will look at
a great many equally qualified applicants who
have almost identical, polite and well formatted
(yet dull) cover letters. As I have often pointed
out with regard to marketing products and
services: standing out from the crowd is the
name of the game. The same holds true when
it comes to getting a job.
The head of human resources at an Amer-
ican company recently told me that they just
hired a young woman who paraphrased a pop-
ular beer commercial in her cover letter. She
unashamedly wrote: "I might just be the most
interesting woman in the world or at the very
least in your pile of applications!" The sheer
whoa-look-at-this audacity of that statement
got her an interview, and she eventually landed
a job; in the marketing department, in fact!
We also shouldn t overlook the importance
of handwriting as a form of communication.
I still consider one of the most impactful forms
of communication to be the handwritten note.
Whether it s to convey gratitude, express con-
dolences or lavish praise, I find few things
make as powerful an impression as the hand-
The fact that such a note is not a quick text
or email makes it even more outstanding, and
valuable. This is why I used to send many
handwritten notes in the early days of Virgin,
and I still write and mail many letters by hand
More and more schools around the world
are ceasing to teach cursive writing---or "joined-
up" writing, as I call it---but it s worth learning
to do it well.
Robert Frost once wrote: "Half the world
is composed of people who have something
to say and can t, and the other half who have
nothing to say and keep on saying it."
Although he may never have laid eyes on
a smartphone, the late poet might as well have
been writing about its effects on today s world.
(Richard Branson is the founder of the
Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin
Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and
Virgin Active. He maintains a blog at
can follow him on Twitter at
twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more
about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be answered
in future columns. Please send them to
RichardBranson@nytimes.com. Please include
your name, country, email address and the
name of the Web site or publication where
you read the column.)
OCTOBER 15 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG13
Is too much communication
Links Archive October 14th 2015 October 16th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page