Tag: Client Relations

How a Motorcade Reaffirmed My Mission to My Clients

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This morning I took a walk down the street to watch the motorcade honoring a fallen San Diego police officer killed in the line of duty.  My motivation was to capture the moment and to spend some time remembering a friend of mine, Detective Larry Steward, who died not quite two years ago.  Larry had been killed by an “alleged reckless driver” and because he was off-duty at the time of his death he did not have a motorcade of this magnitude.

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After watching the beginning of the procession I started back up the road and took the turn to go up the hill to my street.  Because the main road was dedicated to the motorcade, the side street leading up the hill was backed up with cars for what looked like half a mile. The morning news had indicated the ceremony involved more than 500 official cars and it would last approximately one hour on its way through town to the memorial service.

As I walked passed the stopped cars I noticed some drivers on their phones looking angry, others were trying to find a way out and most of them were in a state of frustration.  They apparently did not know why they were stopped and when they would be free to go on their way.  I decided to walk in the middle of the two lanes and start informing the drivers what was happening and how long it would last.  I encouraged them to take advantage of the freeway onramp that was next to them and find an alternate route.

Within seconds of finding out what the cause of delay was, their state and physiology changed.  It was hard to be mad at the circumstances.  In addition, they were now informed, they understood and they could take control of their situation. Many thanked me, smiled and found their freedom with an alternate road.  As the initial cars started to move out of their lanes, each car behind them rolled down their window and waited for me to answer their questions.  It did not take long for many of the cars to follow suit and without even speaking to them, I received waves and thank you’s as I made eye contact and motioned for them to use the onramp.

As more cars, city buses, and postal trucks came down the hill and began to stack up, I started the routine all over again.  I knew I would not be getting back to work when I had planned.  This was going to take a while.  When the road was finally opened up to traffic I headed back up the hill.

As I made my ascent I felt great.  I had taken the time to change frustration into gratitude.  I had been able to help people move along with their plans and get unstuck.  I had done what I would want someone to do for me. I realized that a simple gesture and a few extra minutes meant a great deal to others.

It was then that I thought about my clients.  Sometimes they come to me frustrated and feeling stuck because they don’t have the knowledge or enough information to find the solution on their own.  As consultants we often spend extra time providing explanations and education beyond our traditional services.  It does not fall under “billable” hours or within the scope of work detailed on our contracts, but it is necessary to be a part of the solution and change frustration into gratitude.

You (and your talents) have the unique ability to provide your clients with peace of mind.  You can go the extra mile and have an affect on their state and physiology – or you can walk passsed the line of frustrated drivers and not make eye contact.  It is your choice.

How to Survive a 2-Day Book Marketing Event

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Have you ever come back from a conference and your head is spinning with ideas?  Have you not been able to sleep because all of the great content is keeping your brain moving at warp speed?

When you go to a value-packed conference like the 21st Century Book Marketing Event put on by Arielle Ford and Mike Koenigs be prepared to be swept away.  I went to the first conference last year and I knew what I was in for – fabulous ideas by phenomenal experts.

As the conference began, Arielle asked, “how many of you attending the conference last year?”  Quite a few of the 360 attendees raised their hands, including myself.  A woman behind me said to her friend, “Once wasn’t enough?”   with a tone that implied, why would you have to attend twice?  I smiled and thought, “Strap yourself in, Honey, this is going to be a wild ride.”  What a wonderful example of foreshadowing.  Thirty-six hours later this same woman was up on stage at the end of the event going through a relaxation exercise because she was so overwhelmed.  Yes, I smiled at the irony.

This year I had a plan for maximizing the content and minimizing my sense of overwhelm.  I am confident you will find it useful and adaptable to your own style.

Conference Survival Plan:

1.  Magical Margins: In the left margin of your notebook use shorthand to plan out how you will use ideas and quotes when you get back to work.  This significantly cuts down on the time it takes to go through your 20+ pages of notes and pick out the gems.  You can certainly adapt this idea to your laptop or iPad.  If after the first day you realize you did not keep up with your plan, make adjustments so it works for you.

  • TW/FB – quotes or ideas you want to repeat and share on Twitter or Facebook.  In some cases I put the initials of my clients next to them knowing I would post the comments to their accounts on their behalf.  I could do the same for my own account and/or retweet theirs to expand their brand.  By using socialoomph.com I can easily commit to one hour and schedule posts to several sites that would be published over the next couple of days.
  • AI – Action Item to execute for your clients or your business
  • R – Research, a website you want to check out or a concept you need to look into
  • CC – Colleague Collaboration, a concept you want to execute but are not entirely sure you know how.   Plan to reach out to a colleague for help.   Just writing these two letters next to an idea significantly reduces your stress.  You don’t have to worry about how you will figure something out, set the intention that you have resources available to you and acknowledge you are not alone in the process.
  • FU – (not what you are thinking) – a Follow Up item you need to handle on behalf of a client that was sparked by an idea or concept
  • D – Delegate item to support staff

2. Sort and Schedule: Commit 30-minutes at the end of each day of the event to sort out your tasks and set the priority.  This process can have a tremendous calming effect on you because it can take what seems like a large pile of overwhelm and break it into small pieces of a beautifully executed strategy.  Besides, it is not as if you can go right to sleep anyway…

  • 24 hours – those things that MUST be started or completed the first day back to the office
  • 48 hours – pretty self-explanatory
  • Week – by the end of the week, these items will have been initiated or completed.

3. Rolodex Roundup: As you meet people and exchange business cards,  make a quick note on each one as a reminder of your conversation to ensure a personalized follow up correspondence.  When you get back to your office at the end of the conference, write an abbreviation on each one and/or use your contact system to keep track of the following actions:

  • W – Reviewed their website.  Having reviewed their website will help you in crafting a personalized message when you follow up.
  • B – Do they have a blog?  What is their passion? Could you add value?
  • TW/FB – Connect with them on Twitter and Facebook
  • TY – Send a hand-written thank you card if you can find a mailing address (within 24 hours).
  • EM – Send an email if there is no mailing address (within 24 hours)

Adjust these ideas into a system that you know you can stick to.  You will be amazed at how much better you feel knowing you have a system in place before the event starts.  You will also find it easier to sleep each night because your mind has processed the day’s information and you have sorted it into an easily-digestible action list for a productive week ahead.

Did you attend the event?  If so, I would love to hear about your experience and your take-aways.  If there is something you need, perhaps I know of a resource that can help you.

Never Underestimate Your Value to Clients

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Have you ever assumed people already know how to do something that comes easily to you? For instance, just because someone is a published author, do you assume they love to write? Or that an accomplished speaker will automatically be a great interview on television without media training?

These assumptions have not always been correct. The same is true when I, like many people, believe that just because our clients are highly successful in the areas of their passion, that they know everything there is about the subject, or care to be an expert in all the details. Not true.

I couple of months ago I was given the opportunity to work with a highly-accomplished internet marketer. She did not choose my collaborative blogging program that includes my administration of publishing the blogs and the Twitter and Facebook posts because she wanted to stay engaged on those platforms for herself. That made complete sense.

After reviewing some of the blogs on her site and noticing the number of social networking posts she was using I saw an opportunity for optimizing her efforts. There were small changes she could be making to the blog site as well as her engagement to drive more traffic. I held off bringing this to her attention for a couple of reasons. First, she was a new client and I was not sure how she would receive my constructive feedback. Second, she was an accomplished internet marketer and who did I think I was telling her how to improve. Seriously!

I believe she has such great content and I know she could be increasing her visibility and helping more people with just a couple of tweaks. So I went for it. I not only explained what I thought she needed to do, but offered to do it for her on a temporary basis. This would be a win for her as it would save her time and effort, and teach her how to maximize the blogs. And it was a win for me. I was able to add more value and see the tangible results of my work.

I quickly received an enthusiastic email that could not have been more gracious. She felt clueless about these little details that came easily to me and was not afraid to admit it. I felt great that my message and offer was well received and I can’t wait to jump in and help her.

The lesson here is to remember that all of your knowledge is not common sense to everyone. What you know and how you use it has value. Take a few minutes and review what each of your clients is doing (or needs) and find small ways to solve a problem, increase visibility and create credibility. Your willingness to pay it forward can lead to great things.

Note: This blog post was reviewed and approved by my client prior to posting!

Improving Writing Sessions with Clients

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“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” – Maya Angelou

Over the past couple of years I have been using my digital recorder during some of my client sessions more frequently and I am amazed at how much I have learned from this method and hope it will help you as well.

Capturing Their Voice: Whether I am collaborating, ghostwriting or editing, I find it extremely valuable to review the audio sessions to make sure I am authentic to my client’s voice.  Have I been able to pick up on their diction? Do they use particular phrases?  Do they have language patterns that are their signature style?  Do they choose words such as “not happy” instead of “unhappy” therefore creating a sense of temporary condition rather than labeling their state of mind?

Have you ever watched a celebrity or public personality being interviewed about their new book and after about 20 minutes of the interview, the host reads a passage from the book and it does not sound like them?  The same is true for recognized speakers whose presentations do not resemble their daily dialogue or the content in their products.  This disconnect can be subtle or it can be embarrassingly apparent to the audience and may jeopardize the credibility of the ‘author’.

The concept of honoring and capturing the voice of my clients, be it speakers, authors or executives, is the catalyst for the creation and branding of Your Voice, Inc.

Improving Communication with Clients: I have learned valuable lessons about my communication style and my interaction with my clients while listening to some of these audio files.  In one instance, I realized that my client asked me questions when what he was really doing was working through an internal dialogue and while I had been attempting to answer the question, he is on to the next subject.  In the present moment, and within the context of the session, this pattern was not easily recognizable.  When I was reviewing the audio, it became clearer and having noticed it in our first session I made the adjustment and both our communication with each other and our overall sessions have improved.  In another example, I was able to notice that pregnant pauses inserted after addressing certain aspects of the content were very productive for stretching my client to go deeper with the concepts and in most cases creating extremely powerful expressions and phrases that might otherwise never have surfaced.

I do not want to imply that any manipulation is occurring as a result of listening to these tapings, however recognizing personality traits, communication styles and improving the creative process have made the audio recordings invaluable to me.

Catching Every Word: With some clients it is important that their stream of consciousness, the stories they wish to add to a chapter or speech, or our concept development sessions be captured word for word.  I use the audio file to supplement my handwritten or typed notes from the sessions to create valuable summaries as well as pure content development.

In some of these instances it is most efficient for me to employ the use of a transcriber who can document the session while I am working on another part of the project.  (For referrals of top-notch transcribers, please contact us at writer@yourvoiceinc.com)

Note: My clients are fully aware that our sessions are being recorded and is done only with their permission.  All recordings remain the property of my clients and are provided to them or destroyed immediately following the completion of the project, if not on a weekly basis.