I made a faux pas this week.
You know the moment — The palpitations begin. You try to recall the message or hit the back button. You hit the submit or send button to quick. You can’t take it back now!
If you’re anything like me, you then desperate-dial your phone a friend to slow the anxiety and weigh the options. That person might be a coach, a referral partner, or a trusted advisor.
I get those calls from my clients sometimes. And you know what? I also make those calls.
We are all changing rapidly to respond to doing business in a virtual world. And with the rapid response and high level of novelty (plus some sleep deprivation thrown in), we are bound to make mistakes. Here are the lessons I learned from mine. I hope they save you a few palpitations as you make your own!
Learning #1: I was lucky I knew my brand
When I hit the submit button and accidentally blasted out an invitation to a platform that 1) wasn’t suited for everyone in my contact list (sorry!) and 2), I hadn’t fully kicked the tires on to evaluate; I knew WHY that was such a big deal.
It all comes down to practicing what I preach and having people confidently see my company as the kind of organization that understands how to meet their individualized needs.
Grammarly calls me Hemingway because I create more content and use more uncommon words than 99% of users. Yet essential pillars of my communication strategy honor the need for business owners to stay focused. Here are a few examples:
Session recaps contain sections and bullets. My clients should be able to understand and action them between sessions quickly.
Idea Activation Plans summarize my client’s strategy and action plans on two pages. They become a source of clarity each week.
Newsletters are monthly vs. dripped (which goes against popular wisdom). I organize them to identify interesting content quickly.
None of these methods are “right,” but they are reflective of my brand. I value the trust that comes with sharing your contact information with me, so I use it wisely. I don’t add people to my mailing list unless they ask, and I’m cautious about sending content that could be noise.
Blasting an email without context from another party is not reflective of this communication ideal.
My word is my bond. My network knows that when I recommend something, I’ve had personal experience with it, and it comes with clarity around risks and rewards.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s terms (Book reference: The Tipping Point), I’m a maven. It’s the brand of our company. We want you to know you can trust our recommendations.
Our word is more important to us that almost anything.
Because I knew my brand – I knew why I was having palpitations and what to do about it.
Learning #2: I am grateful I have my people
Everyone needs an advisor (even an advisor!). Ideally, there are a few of them who you can trust to call in the moment of crisis. I was thrilled I had mine. After a few text streams and phone chats, I had my course of action. They all gave me different perspectives because they are unique and understand me differently. I pieced together a solution from their advice and added in some of my own. I came out stronger because of it.
Learning #3: Don’t overdo it.
I am big on acknowledging mistakes. It’s an accountability thing for me. Mistakes are human. Acknowledging mistakes closes space between us.
Because of that, I struggle with overdoing it sometimes. I spend too much time acknowledging the mistake. In that process, I miss the opportunity. Every cloud has it’s a silver lining. When you spend a ton of time apologizing, you can lose that critical part of the process.
Frequently I find I send the apologies to make me feel better and clear the air. But it doesn’t work. There are better things to do that empower my need to move forward instead of backward.
I had to pull back and find the solution in between saying nothing, and causing more churn than necessary. In this case it was a great opportunity to start a conversation on social and make people part of the dialogue!
Learning #4: Find the opportunity to be on-brand.
An organization that prides itself on individualizing means the best response is a personal one. I went through my entire address book and pulled out people who the solution would not work for or that I just wanted to check in with and sent 1:1 messages to them. I texted, emailed, and had a great time reconnecting with people I care about. I’m still working through that list today, and I’m excited to get to the next name on it!
In a time where we all need to stay connected — this mistake ended up being a catalyst for making it a priority.
Learning #5: Sometimes you need to sit in your dirty room to realize you need to clean it up.
To do the clean-up I had to go through my contact list and realized I hadn’t cleaned it up in a long time. I can be a collector. I hold onto contact information because I might need it at a later date. But through this, I learned that I need to be ok with not collecting everything. Just like a good mailing list is a cleansed one; a good contact list is cleaned up on a regular basis as well.
A contact list is so much more than an auto-fill on email. It’s a list you consult on a regular basis to make sure you are giving back to people, staying connected with people you care about or people you are in a position to support or are in a position to support you.
So as I was going through, I did that as well.
Learning #6: One person’s mistake is another person’s discovery.
While the platform isn’t for everyone, some new people did join and thanked me. It was just one more way they could connect and do business in these crazy times.
What mistakes can you turn into an opportunity right now?
Note: It is possible that when I recommend books or other products, I may receive a small commission for anything you purchase. I would never recommend anything I don’t strongly endorse or haven’t used personally and with my clients and seen success.
Jenny Erickson is a former Strategic Program Manager and Organizational Development Consultant in corporate america who is now fulfilling her destiny of helping America’s smallest businesses thrive by giving them access to simplified versions of the best resources she developed in her 2 decades that make sense for the unique challenges of micro-business owners. Find out what she can do for your micro-business!