On Dec. 1, I experienced an unexpected tragedy.
The impact of this experience only I know or understand.
But my husband and parents know the depth of my feelings.
My heart was broken into a million pieces as my best friend of 24 years died unexpectedly.
I tried to hold in my pain by pushing into my client work to mask the feelings deep in my spirit.
But as the days and weeks have passed, I learned that not working through the stages of grief wasn’t helping me.
Little things started coming to mind at the most inopportune times... distracting me and pulling me off my A-game.
I thought I was masking my pain well, but it became clear that not selectively telling others what was wrong only made me look stupid.
After much discussion and prayer, my husband and I decided I needed to talk to someone.
So I reached out to my pastor and scheduled a time for a conversation.
I shared high-level thoughts about what I was going through with a few friends.
I also confided in a dear friend about my raw emotions.
Thankfully she listened, consoled, supported, encouraged, and prayed over me.
And when my husband and I went to meet with our pastor - he did the same.
During our meeting, my pastor told me that what I was going through was normal.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize... it may take me a long time for this gaping hole in my heart to heal, but time can and will heal all wounds.
Insights for Business and Life
It also has helped me gain these insights that you may find helpful:
I feel better just writing this out.
And I’m hopeful that my thoughts help someone in whatever they are going through in life.
From business colleagues and personal friends to complete strangers - we all need to treat each other with kindness and respect.
Let me encourage you to find ways to encourage, support, and love others with kind words and thoughts.
You only have one life to live.
Impact others positively and live your life well.
I don’t know about you, but 2017 seemed to come to a close rapidly. There were so many things on my "to do" list—between work and volunteer obligations, as well as personal and family commitments—the days and hours seemed to evaporate quickly.
As time allowed, I found myself reflecting on what occurred over the past year, as well as my current priorities and making plans for the future. During that time of reflection, the concept of time consistently bubbled to the surface as a common thread.
Everything on my list—albeit personal or business—involved time.
As I found myself running from one thing to the next—the glaringly obvious component of quality time seemed to carry the most weight.
In other words, the things that left a mark and resonated with me most were where I invested quality time. Candidly, the majority of my focus is on my business. My mind is always on the go, which is a reflection of my entrepreneurial spirit; so I really can’t help it. But the quality moments of time that I invested with my husband, parents, furry-sons, colleagues, and friends are the ones I remember most fondly.
Upon reflection, I realize that I receive positive energy and thoughts by connecting with others and intently listening to them. In turn, those who take the time to connect with me and show they care by intently listening become more memorable to me.
You may be wondering what this train of thought has to do with marketing. Stick with me, and I’ll show you as it is actually quite simple.
It is all about relationship marketing, which is where you intentionally take the time to listen to others and genuinely share valuable insights in return. Some call this conversation but I call it relationship marketing. You see, relationship marketing is when you intentionally invest in others by giving the gift of time. Doing so can provide you with significant rewards.
From your business and customers to personal relationships—people who are the most successful intentionally build relationships with others by giving their time to connect and sincerely listen.
Now the cold and calloused truth is that most of us are racing from one thing to the next in an effort to get everything done. Sadly, when that happens, we become so focused on our list of “to dos” that we miss the opportunity to connect with others genuinely.
So how can you weave the gift of time into your relationship marketing efforts? Read through these real examples and think about ways you can make similar experiences occur in your world.
None of these examples could have taken place without me intentionally carving out time to build relationships and listen to others. I could have missed some golden opportunities without making relationship marketing part of my DNA.
The bottom line is this: Time is something we all have in equal amounts. How we partition it out and what we do with it is our gift to others and ourselves. How are you using your time to build your relationship marketing?
Technology makes working remotely easy. As long as you have a computer, cell phone and Internet connection, you can provide support to clients from any part of the country.
When you’re working as part of any team, everyone needs to take extra steps to ensure true collaboration occurs. This is especially true for virtual teams that are paid or volunteers. Without a cohesive mindset, chaos can quickly ensue and client support can be negatively impacted.
Here are a few tips to always keep top of mind when working within a virtual team.
Build Virtual Trust. Any successful collaboration you have – in work or your personal life – is built upon trust. The way to build trust is by creating positive mutual work experiences and personal interactions. When you prove to your virtual colleagues that they can count on you to follow-through and meet your commitments – credibility and trust grows.
In a virtual team, members typically have no idea about their colleagues work environment, work ethic or personal life. While you can tell each other about your children or home office situation – you can only demonstrate your work ethic. If you exhibit behavior that betrays the trust of others, or you don’t pull your weight – you won’t build the confidence you need to be successful.
Trust is the glue that bonds teams together while building commitment and engagement.
Communicate Effectively. Virtual teams typically work quickly on projects. Dependent upon the size of the account, many people may have interactions with various members of a client’s company. Some may gain insights that others need to know to help efficiently execute deliverables. Meetings may cancel, and deadlines may shift. Feedback may even occur that impacts the scope of project work.
If something you’ve committed to working on cannot be completed due to technical difficulties – perhaps the webinar you’re covering for social posts isn’t delivering good audio or you’re going on vacation and will be unavailable – you need to tell the other members working on your team. Going dark is akin to walking off the job. Being quiet and expecting others to “read your mind” is not effective – especially when clients are watching for the team to fulfill their obligations and commitments.
To keep everyone in the know and ensure client expectations are met – virtual team members MUST efficiently communicate with each other. Communication can occur via emails, text messages, phone calls, Google+ Communities, etc.
Make sure your communication is heard, and you respond when others share something. Acknowledge receipt of a text or email. Let team members know you’re engaged and care about the collective results of the team’s project work.
Establish & Follow Team Expectations. You need to know you can count on others and they can count on you. Team expectations can be achieved by respectfully agreeing to follow standard ways to operate.
Eliminate Background Noise. If you’re participating in a virtual meeting, mute your phone when you’re not talking. Limit background noise and ensure others can hear pertinent information that is being discussed.
Don’t Dominate Conversations. Allow others to provide input. Pause occasionally so others on the call can interject and provide insights and feedback.
Listen Attentively. Multi-tasking is the norm, but it can be very distracting. Try to stay focused on the conversation so you can follow-through on the tasks assigned to you.
Clarify and Ask Questions. If you aren’t clear on your assignments – ask questions until you understand.
Don’t Go Rogue. It is easy to say yes to your virtual team members and then run off and do your own thing. Doing things your own way can quickly create chaos and eliminates the trust you’ve been building. If you have an idea of a better way to do something discuss it with your peers.
Be Punctual. If you have a meeting scheduled for 2 p.m., show up on time. Yes, delays can happen, but they should not consistently occur. Show respect to the people you’re meeting with by showing up on time.
Be Prepared. Carve out a minute to review the topic of the meeting. Jot down notes and be prepared to share your insights during the call. Don’t scramble to catch up during the session just because you didn't do your homework.
Use Common Sense. Your actions and words mean something. How you follow-up and interact with others reflects your professionalism, integrity, and character. Lean on your common sense if you’re uncertain about how to address a situation or how your actions will be received. Better yet, when in doubt – ask others.
At the end of the day, if you’re part of a paid- or volunteer- virtual team, you need to remain committed to collaborating and communicating with others while solving problems quickly. If you can’t follow-through and meet expectations, working as part of a virtual team may not be the right fit for you. But if this works for you, you’re guaranteed to experience great rewards.
You want to be successful in your business and your personal life. For some, this means diving in feet first and hoping for success. For others, it means making a plan and launching it.
With either approach, most of us check the box: project/business launch completed. And we quickly move onto the next thing… Right?! We tend to “set it and forget it,” like a Ron Popeil commercial.
While there may be a handful of people this approach works for, the rest of us typically aren’t as fortunate.
If we want to be successful in anything we do, we need to be continually learning and seeking ways to improve our business and personal life.
Sure, we all know outlandish visionary executives who run through life jumping from one shiny object thing to the next. While they appear to be successful, they actually leave a wake of chaos and destruction in their path. (The image of Pig-Pen from Snoopy comes to mind.)
Shiny-object executives may experience momentary success, but it isn’t sustainable over the long term.
So how can you beat the odds and establish a foundation to propel you forward systematically?
From a marketing perspective, I recommend creating a strategic plan that you follow like a roadmap. But let’s say you already have a plan. How do you ensure forward momentum and keep up with the accelerated pace of today?
Here are a few guidelines to consider following:
I’d love to hear what works for you. What methods do you use for continual learning?