YourBusinessWithJamesCaan2016 - 69

NETWORK

Let's keep it social

Email and texts are all well and good but James Caan wants to get back to conversation

PHOTOGRAPHY: SHUTTERSTOCK

H

e may be the seventh most followed
person on LinkedIn but our guest
editor James Caan thinks that we
should all be interacting more.
'We use email, text and What'sApp
- all sorts of digital messaging but as a
society we are much more powerful and
impactful when we use our voice. And
it's good for business, too.'
'How much of a relationship can you
build on email? The most effective way
to do business is by building
relationships and these can be built best
through personal contact. With both
phoning and meeting people in decline
and although Skype is better than email
or What'sApp, what we need is human
interaction. The way we write on
Messenger also dilutes our ability to
communicate in the written sense.
'We need to use interpersonal skills
but these are declining. If you walk into

a restaurant for example you'll see 20
kids in a room and 17 of them will be on
a smartphone, not talking to each other.
'A multinational company asked me
to do an assessment for graduates,' he
adds. 'They were from top universities
including Oxford, Cambridge and the
London School of Economics. There
were 15 of them and the objective was
to present themselves as to why they
were right for this opportunity. Ten of
them I discounted immediately because
their communication skills were so
poor. There was no eye contact, they
had no confidence, the way they
presented was woolly. Generally when
you talk to people you engage with
them, you smile, but I felt their overall
communication ability was quite bad.
'Considering these people were from
top universities it was quite shocking
and illustrated that getting a great

degree is not enough. The qualification
gets you through the door but you have
to demonstrate why you are going to be
valuable to an employer and if you can't
articulate that your degree is wasted.
'How do you get people to improve
their communication? Drama at schools
is a good start as this is very much
about building confidence and
strengthening your ability to debate.

BAN EMAILS IN THE OFFICE

'A small business owner needs to focus
on the importance of relationships. The
point of good communication skills is to
build these relationships which are
absolutely crucial for a small business.
There isn't the strength of a brand or
corporate to win business, it's won by
having relationships with customers.
'I'd ban emails between colleagues in
the same office - 20 years ago when we

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