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During off-hours, simple steps for boosting your business body language

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It should come as no news flash that most of our communication is non-verbal. And one of the most powerful ways that we communicate is via body language—how we stand, how we look at people (or avoid eye contact altogether), whether our torso is open or closed, arms crossed, and so forth.

In much the same way, it’s instructive to think about businesses as possessing body language. Viewed one way, body-language for business occurs in two ways: during “business hours” and during all other hours.

With the marketing and public relations tips laid out below, we will take a look at the “all other hours” portion and ways in which you can bolster your company’s communication during this passive yet still-important period:

Website

There is never truly “off time” when it comes to your website—or at least you should hope not. That would mean your site is offline for some reason, and is missing out on any opportunity to tell your company’s story, to attract prospective customers and even to generate sales.

Volumes have been written about the keys to a successful business website, so this is no attempt to break new ground. However, here is a brief refresher on three basic elements you will want to ensure are present on your URL:

*A welcome page that is genuinely welcoming, with words and images that are warm and professional;

*Easy-to-find contact information, including a phone number and an email address—ideally attached to an individual’s name within your organization. In this way, any visitor knows how to touch base with an actual human being; and

*Background about your company that clearly communicates its distinctive place in the market. Why should people shop or otherwise do business with you? Testimonials, case studies and thought-leadership pieces are solid ways to make this case.

Storefront Design

Whether you are in the retail business or offer some kind of service, if people can see your interior from the sidewalk or the street, what kind of impression does it give?

Some shops do a great job of presenting an orderly, attractive layout that conveys a sense of professionalism and attention to detail. Their body language is powerful and reassuring—a promise to deliver quality upon re-opening.

Others are more slap-dash, characterized by red-flag indicators like hastily scrawled, misspelled messages that are taped crookedly on the front door, as if the proprietor’s kidnappers gave him 30 seconds before hustling him away.

While a loyal customer base may give a pass to some of these shops, particularly those with folksy, warm owners and staff, generally there is a risk of projecting an amateur quality that can undermine your success during business hours.

You need not break the bank to elevate your PR quotient in this area: one way to economically boost your shop's body language is lamination of simply designed and type-written messages that communicate store hours, your website or other relevant details.

When You Are The Business

Off-hours don't really exist for solo practitioners and other entrepreneurs whose livelihood hinges in large part on their ability to consistently attract new clients. As a result, when you are the business, don't forget that anything you do, even during seemingly "personal" time, can aid or hamstring your business hopes.

While pushing my young children on park swings several years ago, I met a Chicago-based author of young adult fiction doing the same with a nephew. Within a few weeks, she was a client. That likely would not have happened if I had been yelling at my kids or otherwise behaving like a boor.

In a similar vein, there are many instructive stories about how Amway Founders Crown Brad Duncan, a longtime leader in the World Wide Group (WWDB) training-and-development organization, connected with those who became strong business associates. En route to Duncan creating one of the industry's most successful businesses from the 1980s to the present.day, one such memorable initial contact occurred as he was getting his car washed--a place as viable as a playground or anywhere else you encounter others to spark business.

To quote a relevant saying: "You don't get a second chance at making a first impression."

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