What are you afraid of? How to turn scary situations into success.

I confess: Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday.  While I do love to be a spectator and admire all of the creative costumes….I’m just ME today!

Today is the 31st and I’m gearing up for the start of a new month.  New goals, new challenges, new opportunities.  In order to GROW we find ourselves facing situations that might be scary for us…mainly because they are NEW to us.  Happy Halloween, right?  Being scared isn’t so bad.  It’s how you deal with it that can change the unknown into success.

What’s got you jittery?  Cold calling?  A big client meeting?  An industry event or conference?

We all get this feeling from time to time.  We see what we should do, what we know is right, what our mentors would do…..and we get that little butterfly in our stomach and our confidence wanes.  We resort to what is comfortable.  Or perhaps we do nothing at all.

Knowing what we should do is half the battle.  Taking the right action is where it gets tough.

If you’re facing fears of the unknown and need confidence, here are some ideas:

  • Commit to taking action.  Identify what is causing your uncertainty.  Better yet? Think about this: what is WORST thing that can happen?  Chances are it’s not that bad (or probable) and you will discover what to avoid and how to prepare.
  • Do research.  Research can eliminate fear.  Whether you’re researching an industry that is new to you, looking for inspiration or gathering strategies from experts. The more you know the more comfortable and confident you will be when you take action.
  • Visualize your success. Playing out scenarios in your mind has been shown to reduce stress and get you mentally prepared.
  • Be prepared.  The more you plan and prepare the more confident you will be when you approach your fears because you’ve already thought about the potential obstacles you may encounter.
  • Relax.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed you won’t perform to your maximum ability.  Take time to relax, focus and go forward with confidence.
Afterwards, evaluate your outcome.  What helped you?  What did you do to prepare that was effective?  What did you learn from the experience?
You can do it.  Believe in yourself, prepare and learn from your experiences.  You will see that it’s not so scary after all.
Happy Halloween!

How to stand out from the competition RIGHT NOW.

People always want to know: how can I differentiate myself?  How they can leave an impact on a customer?  What if I told you one of the easiest tools to accomplish this has been in use since ancient civilization AND you probably have all of the tools in your desk drawer? Put down your smartphone.  Pick up a pen, card & a stamp.  It’s time to re-visit the handwritten note.

Think about it.  When was the last time you received an unexpected handwritten card?  It’s ok if you don’t remember.  Let’s try this one: how did you feel the last time you received an unexpected handwritten card?  I bet you can answer that one.  Positive?  You bet.

Handwritten notes may have lost their popularity but they haven’t lost their impact.  Actually, I was venture to claim that because they’re not utilized as much anymore with new technology handwritten notes have more influence than ever.  

Email is wonderful.  Smart phones are life changing.  Memorable?  Not so much.  Some days I may get upwards of 50 or more emails….in one day. Guess what?  Your potential clients deal with the same email overload.  And…. your competitors are in their inbox as well.  Your thank you email may be a nice change of pace but might not shine as bright – it’s all about perspective.  Cards always stand out when you pick up the mail.  I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like receiving a card.  The recipient will most likely smile, maybe tell a co-worker, but definitely remember the gesture.  Memorable.  See?  You’re differentiating yourself!

Good business is built on relationships.  Relationships are built by sharing ideas, sharing contacts, giving referrals and helping others.  Showing gratitude by saying “thanks” sends the message that you noticed their effort, you value their time and you appreciate it.  It’s wired within us – everyone, young and old, likes when their efforts are noticed.

I don’t have buying power.  I’m in sales – businesses invest their money with my company for services that can help them grow.  However, I sometimes find myself on the receiving end of a “thank you” from time to time for going above and beyond to help a client.  I work with hundreds of vendors.  I’m in the wedding industry and I’m married so I’m not their target audience to buy, BUT I’ll remember those few companies among the hundreds when someone asks me for a referral.  When they call you can bet their message is one of the first I return.  When our magazine or website needs a quick quote or image or idea, you can bet I think of that vendor first.  It’s not that I don’t value my other clients – it’s human nature to reciprocate to those who acknowledge and appreciate what I do for them, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not.

Timing is important.  Don’t wait until the client has rejected your proposal to write a thank you note for the meeting that was 2 weeks ago.  Don’t wait until after the referral buys from you to say thank you.  Don’t wait until 2 weeks before the contract is up for renewal to reach out and let them know you’re committed to their business.  Write it as soon as you can

Printed notes and the handwritten word are not the same.  Yes, they’re creative.  Yes, it saves you time and maybe a hand cramp here and there.  But even my dog’s veterinarian personalizes appointment reminders with a picture of a dog that looks like mine and my dogs name.  It may be thoughtful but it’s printed – it doesn’t have the same positive and lasting effect.  Write it out.  It only takes a minute or two longer than an email.

I’m not telling you to buy-out the post office and spend every day writing notes until your fingers bleed.  But stock up on professional stationery, make them easily accessible and use them!  Recognize how impressionable a good ‘ole handwritten note can be.  It goes a long way and in this competitive marketplace and economy a couple extra yards can make a BIG difference in your success.

TAKE ACTION: Make a goal of writing 1 thank you note a week.  Feeling ambitious?  Write one a day.

Remember, if you can send an email – you can write and send a card.  Choose to be memorable!