What To Do When You Don’t Bring Your A-Game into an Important Meeting

"If this town. Is just an apple. Then let me take a bite. If they say, Why, why, tell 'em that it's human nature"

“If this town. Is just an apple. Then let me take a bite. If they say, Why, why, tell ’em that it’s human nature” M. Jackson

I swear I should have a specific name for my own personal journey with entrepreneurship because I feel my awkwardness is in a league all its own. I’ve shared with you different tips for networking when you’re an introvert. I even shared with you a handy dandy list of questions to ask during a one on one business meeting. Yet sometimes, the prep work gets thrown out the window because your head isn’t always in the game. Gasp! Surely, an entrepreneur always has it all together, especially when it’s Go Time. If you’re not the fearless CEO of you for shame, for shame… but let’s be honest, life can get complicated; typos occur, and miscommunication can lead to mix messages, mix messages can lead to bad impressions…the list goes on.

So how do you compensate for being human? How do clean up spilled ink marks on a blank and open canvas? What do you do when you don’t bring you’re A-Game into the sales meeting, the one-on-one business meeting, that coaching call you’ve been on a waiting list for, (you get the picture)?

1)      Own it: Excuses legitimate or not are always seen as just that, excuses. If you didn’t come prepared, admit it, if you were emotional, be honest with yourself, if you were tired, grumpy, anxious, or even feeling intimidated, these are all things you have control over. After all, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.-E. Roosevelt  And better time management would afford you proper rest and preparation. Self- improvement and personal development is a process not a destination. (And luckily some professional development weaknesses can simply be outsourced in time). So take the 1st step and recognize your own role in your mistakes.

2)      Thank the person for their time: After you’re done agonizing over what you think was worst impression of yourself you ever left with someone, (and it probably wasn’t even that bad). Don’t run and hide, someone gave you their time, and we all know how precious a commodity time is. In the process of expressing gratitude for a persons’ time, try to leave a better impression without being too much of kiss up. Oh, and don’t forget to apologize if you made an offense. A hand-written letter of apology if you really screwed up.

Also, even if it was your investment of money for their time, thank them. I’ve been hired for work later down the line after consulting or coaching sessions I paid for. Why? Because even though I was seeking their help I still brought my own unique skills to the table. These skills were something they remembered and needed in time. You never know!

3)      Learn The Lesson of the moment: If there is a lesson to be learned, seek it out when analyzing what went wrong. And try to come up with ways to prevent yourself from making the same mishaps. Start with simple questions Do you need to work on your confidence? Do you need to get more sleep? Do you need to do more research so that you can ask better questions? Then move onto bigger questions,  And here’s a truth nugget, if you noticed I said if, while I like to believe everything is oh so educational, sometimes, the only lesson to be learned is that there isn’t one. For instance Sometimes no matter if you were prepared or not, you may not be liked, or simply not vibe with the person and depending on how obvious the reasons, there’s just nothing you can do about that.

4)      Don’t harbor on it: I’ll keep this point short and sweet. There’s no use in crying over spilled milk. What’s done is done. You owned up to your mess up, you apologized, you thanked the person for their time, you tried to make amends, you reflected. Life goes on and so must you. Which brings me to my next point…

5)     Keep it moving: Like I said life gets messy sometimes. Sometimes you will get the sale, sometimes you will not. Sometimes, you will have an awesome business meeting, sometimes within 5 minutes of the conversation your new contact will tell you they have somewhere else to be and give you the “good luck chuck” sign off. Sometimes you will invest in a coach and realize you are not prepared to work with one because you’re not willing or able to put in the work they require. Life is in motion, and while it’s good to stand still every now and then to pull yourself together, you have to keep it moving, with or without anyone else’s approval, acceptance, good graces, or well wishes.

Would you like to add to this list? I would love to hear about lessons you learned when meetings don’t as well as you would’ve liked please share below in the comments!

Flickr Credit

I Already Know That [Vlog]

This month I thought out loud about the “I already know that” syndrome. It is a deadly mindset that usually signals to initiate the beginning of the end. You know, that wonderful day when you finally know all you need to know in life, and there’s nothing more to learn. It’s a phrase I’ve admittedly expressed on occasion, especially when it comes to  unwanted advice about relationships, (another topic for another day) But most importantly,  it’s a phrase that shuts down the chance for evolution. It is an attitude that  blocks creative synergy, hinders focused efforts, and squashes dream realization…

Here’s the 3rd video in my I Know The Pieces Fit ongoing vlog series…hope you can vibe with me on this one:

 

Accountability and Why It’s Important

Last week was well, something else. I was not in the best of moods, and I had a lot of family affairs to attend. I honestly wanted to take another vacation since my mini vacation was way too short. Somehow, I knew I would feel this way the week before I took my mini break and made arrangements with a close friend and fellow entrepreneur to start accountability calls. I actually, hate the idea of having to report to someone (hence the original reason for wanting to be my own boss…boy was I in for a rude awakening) because now, I’m not going at my pace (that’s been my excuse and I’ve been sticking with it). Although, showing up and then not showing up all of sudden would warrant some *ahems* and guilt trips from quite a few people in my online circle of friends, I knew that if I was going to take my life, my business, and my overall mind shift to the next level, I wanted (needed) more than a consultant to strategize with me, mentors who guide me, and even a coach to push me towards the win. I wanted to share in both the frustrations and euphoric pleasure of going after what you really want in life even when you don’t always feel like it.  I wanted to share this with someone who also had a coach and/or mentorship, was working through training, but just needed someone to talk things out with in a not so formal setting. I needed this because I want to show up in life because I want to not because I was trying to impress said coach/mentor. Most importantly, I wanted to share this with someone in my age group, a fellow Gen-Y explorer.

More and more I am beginning to really understand why people create small mastermind groups, and age targeted networking groups like YPNS. You just want to be around people who can relate to you, to share in a collective experience, and not always have to be in sales pitch mode although everything is marketing  So, after our first accountability call, I’m already feeling…overwhelmed, how the heck am I supposed to sound as interesting as her every week?!? Just kidding 😉 I’m really excited already, and talking things out with her gave me clarity and a new blog post too (Oh Yeah!). One thing we have to work on is making sure we don’t make it a venting and ranting session since we are already good friends.  I have a feeling we will probably grow our little circle of two in the future, to form our own little master mind group *shrugs* you never know. 

Anyway, I gave you some of my reasons for wanting an accountability partner, for business. I would love to hear some of yours. Why do you think it’s a good practice to have accountability in business and even in life? Better yet, maybe you guys can help me identify the best methods for finding the right accountability partner.

 

Flickr Credit: GrowWear

3 Tips To Help An Introvert Network On Their Own Terms

When it comes to offline networking let’s just say, I always hope the food is good so I can stuff my face and avoid the awkward introductions, and silent judgments. I personally enjoy online networking more mainly because it’s an introverts paradise. Long before I intentionally networked online for business purposes, I made all kinds of connects with people around the world on the basis of specific interests (mainly comics, and anime) and in specific niche groups (Does Black Planet ring a bell?) just for fun. When and if I did connect with those people offline, I was less awkward (and relieved they were real and looked like their profile picture), and able to build genuine friendships that lasted through the years. I said all that to say, eventually, an especially for career advancement, business development, and heck, even marriage, you have to take your online world offline.  After my most recent networking event which came in the form of an Equality Awards Fundraiser for a small New Jersey nonprofit that educates, develops, and encourages the leader in us all, I noticed a little pattern that seems to work for those of us who are slightly more reserved than our extroverted counterparts and broke them down into 3 easy to use networking tips.

Here are 3 Tips to Help you Network when you’re an Introvert

1. Find Comfort in a Wingman

Bring someone with you or find someone in the room who looks like they could use a pal, they’re often standing alone hoping their fellow introvert will come rescue them from the horrible flashbacks of being the new kid at school who squeamishly walked around hoping someone will let them sit at their lunch table. This person can be an empathetic extrovert or even another introvert; it doesn’t matter, as long as they allow you to feel safe because you know there is someone to return to when you have reached your limit of comfortable engagement in a networking environment. I.e. you have begun to wonder when you can leave so you can cuddle up with a good book and enjoy a quiet night alone or with a loved one.

2. Start Small

I know that before I leave I had better work up enough nerve to get a business card or two. I like to give out a business card or two while I’m at it. And quite frankly, I’d rather build a few genuine relationships then collect a whole bunch of contacts with people who more than likely will toss my card and think nothing of it. So, I look for other lone wolves and small groups of people engaged in a particular activity that invites an opening. For instance, I’ve made some truly lucky connections because I happened to arrive at the same time as someone else so we strike up small talk about parking or the weather and end up walking into a networking event together I then look for them again once inside because they are now a familiar face. Or, if someone is having a presentation, it’s easier to strike up a sidebar conversation with others who are interested in the same presentation after all you have somewhat of a similar interest being that you both wanted to see the same presentation. It also never fails to strike up a conversation with someone in line for the ladies room or food and cocktails.

3. Begin the Conversation Online

Earlier I gave a great example of what works extremely well for those us who prefer online conversations to in person. If you know ahead of time, who will be at the event start engaging with them online first, catch up on their blog post, see what they’re doing professionally on LinkedIn. They will likely be the first face you look for in a crowded space and if they won’t end up being your wingman, they may introduce you to a good friend who will be. Not to mention if they are are of an extrovert they will be willing to catch up with you and introduce you to their network of influence This method is one of my favorites and a proven method for generating “a chance” it is actually how I built most of my business alliances, original client base and landed employment opportunities.

When in doubt, do what introverts do best, listen, learn and then decide on a plan of action to carry out to reach your networking goals.

Would you like to add to this list?

I would love to hear from you! (No, seriously,  I could use some pointers.)

 

 

Photo Credit: PhotoCo

First Social Networking Event

Photo by: M. Abanye

A while back I stumbled across this article on face to face networking. It was truly by coincidence that my spiritual leaders had a vision to start up a business professionals networking group. Out of that vision birthed the Victorious Business Professionals (V.B.P.) “Helping today’s business leaders to experience victory in their professional lives.” After reading the mission statement of this networking group I knew this would be a great place to get my feet wet in social networking offline.

Once I discovered that the first event would be a breakfast gathering, I immediately connected with the coordinator to volunteer in anyway she deemed useful. Volunteering gave me a first hand look at the business leaders who were going to attend the event and I couldn’t believe that my church housed all of these awesome people. The impressive list of entrepreneurs ranged from inventors and software designers to bakers and shoe designers. I became ecstatic as the days drew closer to the event. On the day of, I was ready to venture and network like a mad woman. I went speeding down the highway yelling “Hi-Ho Silver!” to my silver/gray (when cleaned) car. My very extroverted friend was running behind and so I would be solo to start. As soon as I walked into the event, took a look at all the people socializing, I immediately felt the urge to coward back to my car and wait for my friend. After all of the excitement and confidence building too!  As I turned to make a dash for my car I agonized over the fact that I recognized some of the faces, yet felt so imitated around so many people. Luckily I recognized what I was doing; (not valuing my own worth by assumptions and comparing) sucked it up and took a brave small step that I could handle. I walked back into the event and noticed a vendor that looked interesting, made my way to the table and listened to the presentation of the representative.

Letting her do the speaking, and watching her professionalism was just what I needed to ease into the networking mindset. Turns out she wanted mentors, sponsors, and businesses to partner with her as she empowers young women desiring to live in their purpose and calling. She thought I would be a great fit as an internet marketer for my gift basket business and surprisingly a social media consultant, (Things I’m still learning how to do productively.)Needless to say, we are now connected Facebook friends. Soon after listening to her business pitch, I found myself with small groups of people answering questions about my products and services making sure to engage with them about their businesses taking mental notes on who I needed to follow up with afterwards. My friend eventually showed up but we never networked together throughout the entire event. I confidently found my groove by starting small and working my way around to various groups of people and vendors.

By the end of the event, I had plenty of business cards with permission to send emails (very important to build a legitimate mailing list.) I found a local computer technician, honed a relationship with a nonprofit startup that I have already begun volunteer work for, and found two awesome nonprofits that I will have to do separate blogs about because they provide local resources I’m sure somebody will seriously find useful (Free entrepreneurship training including computer classes!)  So that sums up my first social networking event. I would love to hear your social event stories. Did you shy up like I did? Did you brand yourself and make awesome connections?