We have all been there. You are minutes away from walking into what you are sure will be the worst meeting of your life. Something has failed, the results aren’t what they should be, and you have to deliver bad news that will make your manager/client/coworker very upset. Your stomach hurts. Your heart is pounding so much you can’t concentrate. And you just wish you could make the problem go away.
The reality is that as you become more successful in your career, more situations will arise that may make you uncomfortable. My husband and I jokingly call these “baller problems” – they are not fun, but if you never had to deliver bad news or face criticism, it would also mean that you have no responsibilities and your career is at a dead end. Ballers make big moves every day, so challenges are bound to arise.
The good news is that you can get better at surviving tough days. The key is spending a little time thinking about how you want to handle yourself in challenging situations, and then putting that game plan into action when they occur…
I am currently elbows deep in research, so while I dig into a longer (and hopefully really useful) post, I wanted to share a recent article that really hit home for me. Yet another reason why I’m a Laura Vanderkam groupie…
Over the past five years or so, I have loved watching more and more of my friends and colleagues become solopreneurs. Each one has something unique to offer the world, and it is exciting to see them forge new professional paths – both traditional and less traditional. I’m not the only one seeing this happen (see Forbes and BoostCompanies).
At some point, I usually end up having a conversation with these friends that starts like this, “Oh hey, you are in marketing… I don’t need to bother with Twitter, do I?”
Here is my take:
Do you need Twitter?
It depends. Do you use other forms of social media? Literally, any other form? If so, then yes, you probably should set up a Twitter account, but it doesn’t need to take over your life. Why? Because if you are utilizing social media for your business, then you have already decided that it is important to your industry in some way. If that is the case, then someone will likely check to see if you are on Twitter and you want them to find you. Not only do you want them to find you, you want them to have a good brand experience – your profile should look and sound like you.
The folks at Twitter, Hootsuite, and ManageFlitter.com have all written useful posts about the value of Twitter for all businesses, including solopreneurs, and their articles are worth a skim. But to summarize, in many industries Twitter is a critical customer touch point so you want to provide a good brand experience AND it is also a tool for you to interact with the marketplace. Both push and pull marketing.
Having said that, I meant it when I said Twitter doesn’t need to take over your life.
How to get started:
Choose a handle that matches your primary social media account handle and/or business name. If you can’t do that, then choose something relevant to your industry (I will do a separate post on when it is and is not appropriate to ask your freelance friends to come up with handle ideas for you for free).
For your profile, pop in the same headshot you use for your other social media accounts and a similar, if not the same, cover image. This is not the time to reinvent the wheel – you want a consistent brand.
Automate! If you primarily use Facebook, then be sure to link your accounts so that each new Facebook post is automatically tweeted. Same for LinkedIn, YouTube, etc – whatever you use regularly. Then make sure that you set up your Twitter alerts so that Twitter will tell you if someone retweets you, tweets at you, replies to one of your tweets, sends you a direct message, etc. That way, you don’t have to check the site constantly, but you can still provide prompt responses to potential customers and anyone else who needs to reach you.
Follow those steps and you’ll be set up to directly interact with your customers, potential customers, and your industry peers… without creating additional work for yourself. Customers will be able to find you and your Twitter feed will be populated with content that you were already sharing anyway.
Ready to take another Twitter step? Follow 10 industry leaders in your space, 5-10 local resources that are relevant to your business, and a handful of your favorite media outlets (trade and otherwise). I bet you can accomplish that in about five minutes, if you are focused and know your space well. Then block off 15 minutes once or twice a week to read posts and respond to what interests you (or automate – set up alerts so you know when your favorite accounts post on a particular topic). You’ll be joining the conversation, again, without spending hours online.
Was this helpful? Let me know! @RachelLColello I’m working on another post for soloprenuers about social media frequency and followers.
Has anyone noticed this getting SO MUCH WORSE in the last six months? Seriously. I can’t take it. I have minutes to consume my media, not hours. I do not want 18 tips. I can’t even absorb 10. Give me five really great new ideas and I’ll read your post. Writing a piece with any more than nine tips/resources/etc. just tells me that you don’t know how to prioritize or you were trying to hit a word count goal. Obviously, I have been ranting about this for years (see my previous post below). And now I’ll go back to yelling at kids to get off of my lawn…
What is going on with tip and resource posts these days?!
“38 resources for busy marketers”
“50 tools for improving your SEO”
“39 tips for nailing your next job interview”
Has anyone else noticed this trend on social media? Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter are full of similar headlines. Why the big numbers, folks? I guess I’m impressed that you found so many resources for me, but as you mention in your headline, I am busy. I don’t want to sort through 38 resources. I would like to read about your three favorites, please. Maybe five if they are all awesome.
To be honest, I know I have been guilty of this as well. Not on this blog, but in other situations where I have been tasked with doing research for someone or tasked with brainstorming ideas. When you are managing up, it doesn’t help to dump 38 ideas on someone’s desk unless they specifically asked for that many. When in doubt, give your manager your best three and let them know you have 35 others, if they’d like to review them.
Harvard Business Review recently did a series on managing up that I will be reading in detail. You know how I love HBR. Have you noticed this trend too? Share your thoughts below!
When I look back on all of the posts I have written to date, this one is always in my top three. Because I keep coming back to it, I am thinking about doing a rewrite – adding new research, expanding the tips, etc. Any suggestions? How do you push through tough professional situations? Any books or research that you would recommend? Please leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter @RachelLColello.
We have all been there. You are minutes away from walking into what you are sure will be the worst meeting of your life. Something has failed, results aren’t what they should be, and you have to deliver bad news that is going to make your manager/client/coworker very very upset. Your stomach hurts, you can’t concentrate on anything, and you just wish you could make the problem go away.
The bad news is that as you become more successful in your career, more situations will arise that make you uncomfortable. Or more accurately, scared and sick to your stomach. My husband and I jokingly call these “baller problems” – they suck, but if you never ever had to deliver bad news or face criticism, it would mean that you also have no responsibility and your career is going no where.
The good news is that you can get better at surviving tough days. The key is setting what Mallika Chopra calls a “microintent” (if her name rings a bell, she is Deepak Chopra’s daughter and just published a book called Living with Intent). A microintent is exactly what it sounds like, a small intention that you set to get you through a challenging situation. I love this term – when I read it I jumped up to grab my highlighter because it perfectly describes the only technique that works for me when I am really nervous about a really terrible day.
Here is my personal approach:
Find a quiet two minutes to take a breath. Your adrenaline is kicking into overdrive right now, and you need to find a little space so that you can stop spiraling out of control. For some people this means going for a quick walk, or throwing on their ear buds and listening to a good song for two minutes. Do not stress yourself out by trying to find five or ten minutes, two is enough. The two-minute break on Calm.com is my personal go-to. No one in the office even needs to know what you are doing – you can hide the window and pretend to be reading something serious on a different screen (though I do prefer to close my door and close my eyes when possible).
Acknowledge the reality of the situation. This is happening, but it won’t last forever. You cannot skip the meeting, pretend to be sick, or avoid it. Ballers don’t back down. So keeping that reality in mind, think through your day…
Visualize how things will go. Your bad meeting is at X time. It will be over by Y time. You have A, B, and C other responsibilities to cover. This is where your microintent comes in. How do you want to handle your meeting? What is your goal or intention? How will you handle what follows the meeting? The key is to only focus on your microintent. Do not rehash the events leading up to the meeting or situation. Do not spend time thinking about what happened or what you could have done differently, unless you need to provide those thoughts as part of a report. Focus specifically on how you want to handle yourself in this meeting on this day.
Step three can be difficult. Here are two tips for making it easier:
Don’t give yourself a ton of time. If you give yourself 20 minutes when you really only need five, you’ll spend 15 minutes rehashing, stressing, and overreacting. Focus on only your microintent and how you want to conduct yourself through this situation. Once you have that set, move on to something else productive to keep yourself occupied until the meeting.
Think of yourself as the star of your own movie. This is amazingly cheesy but it works, because it gets you out of your own head for a minute. If your day was a movie, and you were the hero walking into this situation, how would you want to react? When the hero walks out of the room after the meeting, what are the other characters thinking? What impression did he/she leave? What kind of main character do you want to be? That’s your microintent.
Bad days will happen. Tough meetings, stressful situations, and confrontations will come and go. But having a little plan in place will help you to get better at handling them.
When I first started out in the agency world as the low man on the totem pole, it was often my job to organize our team’s applications to various marketing, public relations, and creative award competitions. While I do not think you should be designing your marketing programs to win awards (please design for results!), programs like the PRSA Silver Anvil Awards or the American Marketing Association (AMA) Awards are still more than just busy work for 23 year olds.
Here are three reasons why industry competitions are worth your time:
They show us what good looks like Most award applications have three key components – objectives, execution, and results. If nothing else, just thinking through the application process is an excellent exercise in how to approach most projects in the business world. But reading through past winners is also a fantastic way to quickly learn what great looks like in any given industry. Just started a new job? Find the most relevant industry competition that you can and read the winning submissions from the past three years. Now you know where to begin. Been in your job for a while? Do the same thing, and use those ideas as a springboard to supercharge your next brainstorming session.
They document your success In the best competitions, anyone can apply and win… even smaller teams, new companies, etc. Theoretically, an independent third party judges all submissions and the best project wins. We all agree that the winning submissions are the best of the best and the winners walk away with an award they can point to as proof of their success.
To be clear, I say “theoretically” because I’m anticipating commenters who point out that certain large agencies with friends on the judging panel (or very large budgets) sometimes seem to win all of the awards. That may or may not be true in some competitions or some industries, but I hold out hope that a really amazing submission will still get the recognition it deserves. Call me optimistic.
They inspire new greatness Those of us who have applied to PR or marketing awards in the past know that the biggest agencies have the bandwidth to really get serious about their applications – putting more time and effort into pulling them together than some smaller agencies can afford. But in a way, that’s ok. Let’s be competitive! As long as success is always tied to results, coming up with a sexy campaign that blows its objectives out of the water is always a good thing. And if the big firms inspire a few smaller or new firms to jump in and play with the big boys, then bring them on! That exactly how it is supposed to work. Good results should, again theoretically, always shine beyond the binder they are presented in.
So if you are a 23-year-old newbie who is sweating through your first award application, try to enjoy the process. Even if it feels like you are being punished, you are doing an important thing. Read up on past applications and put your best foot forward. You’ll learn from the process and in a few years, someone else can help 😉