Business Relationship Destroyer #3: Making Up Stories

In the last two episodes of How to Destroy a Business Relationships, I talked about focusing on negative communication and not taking things personally. Today’s destroyer rears its ugly head when you try to guess what the other person is thinking. Destroyer #3 occurs when you make up stories about your customer or yourself. Every one of us is guilty when it comes to interpreting customers or what anyone says.

I was coaching Andy, a sole proprietor of a tax preparation and accounting service. Andy hung out his shingle one year prior to our meeting. He told me how much he appreciated the help I gave him and valued our time together. One theme we discussed was how to handle his irregular cash flow. His work was seasonal and cash pretty much dried up after tax season.

Our coaching sessions were held every other week. After each session, I would email Andy his bill. Our first two sessions were in January. Andy paid me at the end of January for the two sessions. The same thing happened in February. In March and early April, we met twice. I emailed my bill after each of the March and April sessions. By late April, I had not received a check from Andy.

Andy canceled his next session via email and wrote that he had to stop for a while He did not tell me why. Right before I received the email, I said to myself I would not see him until his bill was paid. I wondered what was going on. Why wouldn’t he pay? Why did he quit? So, I made up a story or two in my head about why Andy didn’t pay. After a few days of not getting a check in the mail and after making up some more stories about why he would not pay, I decided to email Andy, attach a copy of the bill, and ask him what was going on. I did not receive a reply. So, I made up more stories. “Maybe he didn’t value our work?”

A week later, I called him and left a message to call me. I was polite and asked him to return my call. No response. It was now the first week in May, when Andy called back. He apologized for not getting back to me. He said he was completely overwhelmed during tax season. He sent me a check the next week for the full amount.

You are emotionally and financially invested in making your business succeed. You want to make the right decisions in order for your business to grow. It is easy to fall into the trap of interpreting what customers say when you are feeling vulnerable or anxious.

Click here to learn  how to prevent yourself from destroying a business relationship.

Failure in Not an Option

What is holding you back from creating and executing your marketing activities in a timely way? You’d be surprised. Below, I’ve listed six challenges that might derail your marketing efforts. Where did I get this? I’ve experienced all of these challenges one time or another during my career as a marketing professional. I’m not suggesting any quick fixes, but I encourage you to think carefully and ask yourself the tough questions.

Challenge: Too much, too soon (underestimating the extent of the work)

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How many social media platforms can I realistically handle at once?
  • How many networking events can I attend?
  • If I could select only one marketing tactic to implement:
    • What would it be?
    • Why would I select it?

Challenge: Unrealistic timelines

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Do I have a realistic completion date for planning my campaign?
  • Do I have a realistic date to start executing my marketing campaign?
  • Did I discuss with someone else the feasibility of keeping to my deadlines?

Challenge: Money, time or energy constraints

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Did I carefully estimate how much money my campaign will cost? Always a good idea to get three proposals from freelancers
  • Have I considered how much time and energy I want to spend on marketing vs. delivering my product or service?

Evan’s rule of thumb for budgeting: Take your proposed budget and double it! That might give you an idea of what’s in store for you.

Challenge: Selecting the wrong person to help

Questions to Ask Yourself

Would I:

  • Hire my brother-in-law (or other relative) to design my website?
  • Hire someone to help me if they do not have marketing experience relevant to my business or profession?
  • Hire the least expensive freelancer? (You get what you pay for)

Challenge: Scope creep occurs when your project (creating a marketing campaign) expands beyond its initial size

Questions to Ask Yourself

Have I:

  • Set a specific goal for my marketing campaign?
  • Talked to those involved in helping me create my marketing campaign (freelancers, etc.) and clearly articulated scope of work?
  • Know when to STOP before scope starts creeping

Challenge: Your life interferes

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What life events or family commitments might derail my marketing activities?
  • Are there certain times of the year that might cause me to delay implementing my marketing campaign?

Just by asking questions, answers will come to you.

Networking Tips for Introverts

You have been repeatedly told by colleagues and have read about the benefits and importance of attending networking events. “It’s what you do as a business person.” “It’s where your customers and referral sources are.” Does this sound familiar? So, you say to yourself, “This is something I must do. It’s is all well and good but what happens if you’re an introvert?

If you’re an introvert, you might agree with the following*:

  • You feel ‘just right’with less stimulation
  • You would rather take a vacation at the beach and relax with a book rather than go on a cruise
  • You tend to work carefully and deliberately
  • In social settings you wish you were home
  • You devote your limited social energy to close friends, colleagues and family.

A good place to start planning your networking strategy is to identify your strengths and challenges you face promoting your business. Think of strengths as something that comes easily to you and something you love and enjoy. Challenges are both external (time and money) and internal. Internal challenges are those activities that do not come easily to you and are often outside your comfort zone.

Ask yourself:

  • How do I feel about attending a networking event?
  • Given my quiet nature, how many people can I realistically make meaningful contact with at a networking event?
  • Wouldn’t I rather be talking one-on-one than ‘working the room’?

Lead with your strengths, not your weaknesses. Why expose yourself to needless anxiety? If you see networking events as an anxiety-provoking experience, try something else more suited to you.

However, networking events are where the money is. Here are some suggestions about how to network in your own, introverted way:

    1. Make a game plan prior to the event and identify specific individuals to meet
    2. Get the jump on other attendees by volunteering with the sponsoring organization to do anything (help with registration, refreshments, etc.). This is a great way to meet the leaders of the organization sponsoring the event.
    3. Try not to get distracted by talking to friends or those not in a position to help you.
    4. Don’t go it alone, bring a buddy. Your buddy can be anyone who can help you negotiate the event.
    5. When you meet someone at a networking event, you have few precious seconds to tell your story. Be ready to modify your story (fondly known as an elevator speech) on the fly based on the special interests of the person you are meeting. There are plenty of places on the web to find guidelines on how to craft your elevator speech. Bottom line: make it short and sweet.

What kind of follow-up do you want?

  • Ask for a meeting
  • Get their business card
  • Give them your business card
  • Invite them to something

Land the plane. Be sure to land the plane smoothly, safely, and quickly. And, most importantly, know when to bail out of the event..

It may seem that extroverts rule. As an introvert, you need to find your own way of networking that is uniquely suited to your quiet strengths and talents.

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*Taken from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Crown Publishers, 2012