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Bits ‘N Pieces

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Is face time obsolete for business?

Do you feel like you’ve been seeing less of your colleagues? It’s not your imagination. Working face to face in day-to-day business dealings may now be the exception more than the rule, according to a survey by Blue Jeans Network.

In the company’s recent poll of 400 business decision-makers, 91 percent reported they have never seen some of the people they regularly work with — including coworkers and customers. Regular face time, it seems, has become nonessential to running a successful business.

There are negative repercussions of not being able to put a name with a face, however; the survey found that a lack of face-to-face communication can contribute to issues such as:

  • Embarrassing situations — 40 percent of respondents have misidentified someone’s gender due to a lack of visual communication.
  • Misconstrued intentions — 60 percent of respondents admitted to misreading a person’s tone or message by email or phone.
  • Lost business opportunity — Nearly three quarters of respondents believed a lack of face-to-face interaction has cost them a business deal.

What’s more, less visual interaction often reduces employee accountability during phone calls or conferences. Survey respondents admitted to distractions such as talking to colleagues (72 percent), using social media such as Facebook and Twitter (69 percent) and going as far as taking a nap (6 percent) during phone conversations where they couldn’t see the person on the other line.

It’s no surprise, then, that 54 percent of respondents cited video conferencing as the best alternative to face-to-face meetings, with audio calls and email communication as their second and third choices.

 

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Step up your B game

You may have seen the B Corp logo — a “B” surrounded by circle that’s been touted by companies such as Patagonia Inc., Etsy Inc. and Ben & Jerry’s. But what does it mean? And why would you want one?

Offered by the nonprofit B Lab, the B Corp logo is third-party seal of environmental and social credentials for for-profit companies. The organization evaluates applicants based on treatment of employees, sustainable business practices and community involvement and has been certifying companies since 2007.

For many, the social seal demonstrates their commitment to a social mission as well as a fiscal one. It’s also helps lure young talent, as more studies show that millennials are looking for employers that emphasize social responsibility.

 

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 Mastering the art of negotiation

Many small business owners find it difficult to get what they want at the negotiation table.

Ultimately, the problem may be in your prep work, according to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program curriculum, which cites these seven tips for negotiation preparation.

  1. Figure out your top goals and rank them.
  2. Do the research, and come prepared with numbers to back up your offer.
  3. Know what you’re willing to give up.
  4. Know when you should walk away from a deal that doesn’t satisfy your goals.
  5. Learn about your counterparty’s past performance.
  6. Write down outcomes that could make both sides happy.
  7. Look at your company’s resources to determine how you can use them to help seal the deal.