17 Mar 2017

Just say no!

Ennnn. Ooooh.
No thank you.
Not for me but thanks anyway.
That’s kind of you to offer but we’ve got it covered.

Why do professional people ignore offers of help? FREE help. Is their ego getting in the way? Are they threatened by an outsider’s opinion? Is it more hassle than it’s worth? Are they worried about causing offence by saying No?

Perhaps they think the free advice is worthless. There’s a thought to ponder.

Whatever the reason, ignoring the offer has to be one of the rudest inaction's a person, start-up, business or charity can do. I notice it more and more. People asking for things - money, donations, a contribution of sorts for something (and positioned as a benefit to me) that doesn't relate in any way to my business. Often I reply 'No, not for me but good luck' but if I like the person or the cause I try to find a way to help.

I consider what I am willing to give and what skills I have to offer.

I consider my language and tone when crafting the response and offer something that I think will be of value. A free marketing workshop, help moving boxes, an extra body on the day of the event, an introduction to someone who could make a difference. Mostly people accept and we get to work. Over the years our paths cross and we both enjoy a professional relationship, sometimes we even become pals.

Occasionally people ignore the offer, then contact me down the line with another request for money, a donation or wanting to take up the original offer (particularly the introduction to someone important) that they didn't have the manners to acknowledge the first time around.

And that's not cool. It's not okay.

Your network is the most valuable asset you have in business. Nurture it. Grow it. Invest time in it because there will be occasions when you need support, to be held accountable, a second opinion, a boot up the backside or a confidence boost and your network will only be there to lean on if you've not taken them for granted. Beyond the business value of your network there's that basic human decency of treating others in the manner you'd like to be treated.

It takes a tiny, tiny, tiny amount of time to return a call, or to write an email and say ‘I really appreciate the offer but we’ve got that covered / things are too hectic just now to take you up on that / someone else has offered to do that for us…...

Show a little respect. Other people’s time is as valuable as yours.

I’m a firm believer in the Pay It Forward movement. I’m also a fully signed up member of the ‘I’m No Pushover’ brigade...hence the reason for this 'roar'.

Too tough?

No, just the truth. Honest communication, I’m all for it.

Comments always welcome.
(Apologies to those of you who are now singing Grange Hills ‘just say no’ anthem.)

13 Mar 2017

Mistaken Identity

Walking towards the doorway I raised my hand to wave at the male figure standing waiting and sheltering from the rain. As I got closer I realised that the man wasn’t my business lunch companion but a complete stranger. Before I could blink the stranger was shaking my hand and pulling me closer to kiss my cheek. ‘Lovely to meet you, hope you found it ok?’ He enquired.

Slightly puzzled, but mostly amused, I inhaled his aftershave and explained that I wasn’t the lady he was waiting for. I had a fair idea what scenario was about to play in front of my eyes. The stranger nervously told me he was waiting for a date with a lady he’d been talking to online. Fast forward a few moments and a petite woman with short dark hair and trendy glasses arrived and off they trotted into the restaurant. I’m still giggling at this encounter, especially as I’m tall and blonde and spectacle free.

Earlier this month in a less amusing case of mistaken identity I was confronted by a disgruntled woman in a work environment. She was angry. We had an audience and her voice was loud. I didn’t recognise her and couldn’t get to grips with why this person I’d never met was so annoyed with me. Caught off guard it was tempting to reply in the same tone and give her it back both barrels but I opted for the professional option.

Lowering my voice, I asked open questions and tried to defuse the situation. The outcome? Irate Woman thought I was someone else. She disappeared as quickly as she arrived and no, no apology was offered for the embarrassment caused.

Humour me.

Take these two scenarios and transfer the conversations online to the accounts that represent your business or organisation.

Imagine your business followers, customers, colleagues, investors or board members watching the action unfold on social media, throwing their tuppence in with a comment or a retweet or a share. Hijacking your hashtag. Recording or live streaming from their phones so their network can join in. Generating attention, lots and lots of attention.

What’s your master plan? Are you ready to capitalise on the opportunity if the reaction is positive? Are you prepared to handle negative encounters? What’s best practice? How is your message being interpreted? Is a knee jerk reaction a possibility? How’s your social media policy shaping up? How can you find out if you're 'talking' to the right audience? Have you overdone the aftershave? Geezo, are you dizzy yet?

I do this for a living, I enjoy figuring out the pieces of the puzzle. I'm fascinated by people and how we communicate. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like help in unraveling the ever changing world of social media marketing. Let’s have a chat over coffee, we can wear name badges…. in case these mishaps come in threes.

Comments always welcome.

20 Feb 2017

The Stories In My Mind

Like a spiral in a spiral or a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning…..instead of windmills in my mind there is an abundance of endless stories, whirring around and around, half typed and stored on my laptop in a folder entitled ‘Half Written Blogs’.

January has passed in a blur and it’s now midway through February. At some point last year I was supposed to have finished writing a book. A deadline I had set myself. I have the outline of the story and the characters. I’ve had brilliant advice from a couple of authors and fate put me in front of publishers and ‘people in the know’. But I wasn’t ready, it wasn’t finished, pfffft it was hardly started and now it’s lying dormant. Yes. I’m annoyed at myself.

I spend a lot of time writing for other people, a task which I really enjoy. Short articles, blogs, copy for marketing. It’s interesting work and it makes me an asset at the pub quiz because of random facts I learn when researching each piece. But what I really, really love is writing for myself. Yet I haven’t made room for it in my life. Meeting deadlines, paying the bills, time for others or old fashioned procrastinating always takes priority. (You may recognise this scenario.)

There is so much I want to write about. Generally. From St Paul and the Broken Bones to Madeleine Peyroux. Applying for a new passport and looking back at the previous ones to see the aging process in slow motion. Joan Eardley paintings. Tenement flats. The heartbreak of Dementia. Roundabouts and crazy drivers. Miscommunication. Old people dying alone. Work etiquette. Impressive people with good intentions. Vulnerability. Rage at politics and travel bans. Racism. Our naked neighbours. Strangers on planes.

The half written blogs folder is pretty full.

Now at 6pm on a Friday I’m determined to finish and publish this article because another week has passed and I have to – want to - write something for me. I refuse to log off until it's done. Perhaps someone reading this will say ‘Me too Annie! I’d really like to be doing This or That’. Maybe you could nudge me in a month and I nudge you back? Commitment without excuses. ‘Don’t disappoint me, stick to the plan’. You know the drill. It's easier with an acquaintance, loved ones let you wriggle out of it with excuses. 

I know everyone wants to write a book, or nearly everyone. We all carry around stories, the fun and frivolous ones that are easy to tell or the painful kind, hidden with the skeletons in our closet. Stories spark ideas and discussion and in sharing, I truly believe they help others. 

My book, if interested, is unlikely to help others. It's a murder. Blood, deception and greed. On a bookshelf near you, one day soon. Hopefully.

Comments always welcome.