Communications

As a network consultant, you could say my specialty is in communications.

But it isn’t just protocols and passing bits; it might seem obvious to you but network consultants actually have to communicate to other humans.

So what do you do if you have problems communicating? I can’t claim my systems will work for everyone, but here’s what I’ve got. Maybe it will work for you!

Time Management

  • you are late for a meeting
  • you are very late for a meeting

Everyone knows that bad stuff happens. Maybe your car broke down, or there is a traffic jam. A quick fix is to send your customer an email, or a text message or even call them — and make an accurate estimation as to how late you will be, or even reschedule the appointment.

Create a time buffer to accommodate bad stuff happening. If you’re meeting a client down the street for coffee, and it is a 5 minute walk give yourself ten minutes. It is always better to meet your clients calm and relaxed, rather than out of breath and sweaty because you ran the whole way.

So many misunderstandings can be avoided if you set expectations ahead of time. If you’re driving 4 hours to a client site in the mountains and there is only minimal cellular service between them, give yourself 6 hours and make sure your client understands your situation.

Task Management

If you’re anything like me, you have hundreds of things on the go at any moment. I’m constantly forgetting to do things, but I try really hard to get everything done. It is not easy.

  • you forget to send emails describing what is completed
  • you forget to send emails describing what remains to be done

Depending on the client, I have different approaches. Sometimes I share a google spreadsheet with a client that has a list of tasks and their latest status. Other clients want more detail, or a higher frequency of updates — for these clients I send out daily/weekly/whatever updates with a list of tasks and their latest status.

The thing to take away from this is that your clients need to know what is going on. It isn’t hard to give this to them.

  • you forget to complete critical tasks

I don’t do this much anymore now that I keep track of my tasks, but you can imagine the conversations I would have to sit through, and the holes I had to dig myself out of.

  • you complete non-critical tasks before critical tasks

I recommend that you let your client determine the priority of tasks. You can always give them advice, but just because it is easy to knock 100 little items on a task list before tackling the 1 big one doesn’t mean that is what your client wants.

Conclusion

I guess the only other thing I can suggest is honesty, plain and simple. If you mess something up, be the first person to put up your hand and say “I forgot to do that”, and then fix it.

This is almost an exercise is how to be a good person, but you don’t have to be honest all the time, but if you’re honest about project updates and if you’re honest about the successes and failures that you had then your clients will love you for it. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes — and usually mistakes are cheaper to fix if they haven’t been brushed under the carpet for a long time.

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