This is my favorite topic to write about for voice talent. My very first acting teacher stated to me years ago in college, “You have no absolute right in this business, but there is an absolute wrong way.” Granted, he stated this to me because he was annoyed I talked too much and asked lots of questions, but I still firmly believe that the way a person communicates can cost him/her a job; even more so online. It sounds obvious, but really…it is not so obvious. Here are five tips for communicating online, that I have found helpful for many:
- Online business carries the perception that every business is professional already. There is no need to state how professional a person is, because it may read as defensive. I am a professional, so I know…(Do you see what I mean? You will decide for me if this is professional writing or not)
- In the ‘do it yourself’ DIY environment, voice talent and clients are now ‘business to business’. There is no agent. This requires voice talent have that “DIY Attitude”; the “Don’t worry. I will do it myself” attitude.
- Do your very best to avoid offering up negative information about yourself that may make a client feel like you are not interested, or unappreciated. Sarcasm and ironic comments are impossible to comprehend in writing, and that type of humor goes over like a crazed clown at a children’s party. It makes one think you are ‘socially awkward’. Understanding another person’s humor is quite personal, and therefore should be left out of business discussions.
- Do not involve your client in the stress of your heroics. When you order a steak at a restaurant, the chef does not come out and give you a play-by-play of how the meet got to his grill. People want to feel smart for working with you, and that involves 0% stress. In short, you appear to be more of a hero by accomplishing the goal and leaving the heroic story out of it. If you need a release, find talent online to talk to, for some reason, but not in searchable content that makes you appear ungrateful, or egotistical and then is easily found by the client who hired you. Everyone has feelings, and websites are communities.
- Put the iron fist away, if things are not going exactly the way you had expected. Blasting someone in an email is just scary to another person, and you will not get you what you want. There is a common misconception that when someone is not getting what they want, and they compromise, that somehow they are ‘losing a fight’. Welcome to the political aspect of working in a global environment. You have to be able to be your own business, without ever losing your cool, or becoming a doormat for someone who gets pushy.
When communicating online one must remember how the true, honest ‘self’ shows itself to other individuals. We become brave, think on deeper levels, and get filled with an unrealistic confidence level that all leads back to something I like to call ‘instant web karma’:
- If you feel you are picking a fight, you will get a fight.
- If you communicate with anger, so shall be the response.
- If you communicate with dishonest intentions, expect to lose a client.
- If you try to force someone to do something, you have forced them away.
- If you accuse first, and ask questions later, you will be treated as someone who accuses first, and asks questions later.
All of the above sounds easy, and one can say, ‘Well, I never do that.’, but to really know if you do or not, you must first accept that the way you were treated is the result of your own actions. For example, and as silly as this may seem, it became a bit serious: My mother once wrote on my Facebook wall, “Why don’t you call me?”. In the days following, very beautiful and concerned online voice talent, started writing me. I received 451 messages asking if I was ok, alive, or having family issues (which I am not). Embarrassing as it was, it was my mistake to associate my personal Facebook account with my work account. In an effort to be connected, I linked family and business connections. I created the issue, and it is my fault, but not my mom’s for not knowing my business boundaries. In any case, ‘Focus on the bright side of your mistakes to see what you can learn’. I learned quickly how fast word can spread online in a voice over community.
How do you promote healthy ‘web karma?’ When communicating online, try to do the following:
- Stay humble. Everyone loves ‘humble + talented’.
- Know what your goal is in this industry ahead of time. No one knows it, but you.
- Be friendly, and take the high road always.
- Save people time. Do not be high maintenance; the process of making buyers feel like they work for you, when they are paying you.
- Respect other people for who they are, even if in the heat of the moment where you want to react by showing disrespect in anger.
In the global environment of the online voice talent, you are an ambassador for your own business. For more great information, please check this book out, ‘How To Talk To Anyone’. You will love it!