Behind-the-scenes advice for busy solo professionals courtesy of Michael Katz, Blue Penguin Development

  • I know, it’s such a cliche that I hesitate to even mention it.

    Interestingly, the purchase of the car was smooth and pleasant. No keeping me waiting in the showroom for hours; no high-pressure tactics on extended warranties; no floor mat special offers.

    I left the dealer that day thinking, “Finally, an auto dealer that has figured out how to do things right.”

    But over the last week, as I’m waiting for the car to be delivered, it’s been lots of small stuff: poor communication, dropped balls, no follow-up.

    The thing is, this is supposed to be the easy part.

    Clear, timely, friendly follow-up isn’t a skill, it’s a decision. Anyone who wants to can do it.

    But if you don’t, it negates everything else you may have done right.

    The small stuff is the big stuff.

  • I suppose that’s no surprise; it’s the shortest day of the year so there is less time to get things done.

    I hope you agree that makes no sense – it’s just a story I’m telling myself and clearly not true.

    Other stories are harder to spot…

    … the prospect isn’t getting back to me because they are not interested.

    … my client is mad at me because they sounded funny on the phone just now.

    … nobody commented on my blog post so it must have been terrible.

    All of these things could be true, but it’s quite possible none of them are.

    That’s why my go-to rule in these anxiety-causing situations is to ask myself: What’s the evidence?

    If all I have is the story I made up, I try to ignore it.

  • The unsubscribe button, that is.

    That’s because this is the time of year when my email inbox is filled with special offers and donation requests from people and organizations I have not heard from all year (maybe ever).

    It’s a good reminder and opportunity to remove myself from lots of mailing lists.

    Here’s the thing: once a year is not enough to make a connection with people, especially if you want them to buy from or donate to you.

    Relationships take time.

    If the only time I hear from you is when you want something, there’s a good chance I’m not listening.

  • I woke up to several alerts from Facebook regarding a suspicious log-in and other activity on my account that occurred during the night.

    By the time I clicked the “It wasn’t me” link on the email alert, Facebook had already PERMANENTLY deleted my account due to bad behavior.

    That’s right. They gave me five hours’ notice – in the middle of the night – before pulling the plug due to “my” behavior, after having told me that somebody else was pretending to be me.

    I have tried several different ways – based on Facebook’s own instructions – to protest and have it reinstated but to no avail.

    Fortunately, I almost never use Facebook, and other than giving me access to a handful of alumni and similar groups, I don’t need it. I’ll just create a new account using a different email address and problem solved.

    But … it was a pretty good reminder of the danger of building a business on a platform that is subject to somebody else’s rules. 

    That’s why I like email – it’s a completely distributed system with nobody in charge.

    So, what would happen to your business if Facebook, or Instagram, or LinkedIn, or whatever, suddenly decided that you were unplugged – permanently? If you don’t have email addresses of your contacts, would you be back to sqaure one on your marketing?

    It’s probably worth thinking about.

  • And it’s not even lunchtime.

    Like you, I’ve been receiving a ton of holiday sale promotions.

    What I’ve noticed is that the ones I tend to unsubscribe from are the people/companies who I rarely hear from otherwise.

    For those who have been in touch – especially those who have been sharing useful, no-strings-attached information during the rest of the year – I don’t remove myself.

    Selling is fine. But you will sell a lot more – and be invited back – if you give before you take.