Tag: small business marketing

Appreciation in Business: A Crime against Words of Affirmation

A Crime against Words of Affirmation

Appreciate you! Thanks bunches! Grateful man! Thank you very much!  Thanks for all you do!

Meaningless. Droll. Lifeless words that are crimes against affirmation.

This is what we see as common place phrases that are used to convey appreciation in business.

Are you guilty of these types of words of affirmation?

Have you been on the receiving end of one of those standard thank yous?

Would you much rather hear nothing than to receive this kind of thanks?

There are many who would agree with you:

And, then there are those that are more about action as opposed to words.

Would you rather hear someone’s appreciation or would you rather see it in acts and deeds?

Regardless of the delivery, for appreciation to be heard with the true intention that was meant to be delivered with it – it must be genuine.

Fake it and you’ll be dead in the water.

After reading Dr. Paul White’s and Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation, I’ve been on a mission to learn about how these are applied in business and more importantly how they are applied by the people who are face-to-face with customers and clients.

I’m interested in that intersection where knowledge becomes powerful – when it’s applied.

To assuage any possible association with these current crimes against affirmation in your appreciation:

  1. Be specific

This means that it’s more than just an “appreciate you”; “thanks bunches”; or even “muchas gracias”.

Specifically describe what it is the person did, said or a character trait about them that you are grateful for.

For example:

  1. Something they did:

“I appreciate you staying late and helping that customer with their questions.”

  1. Something they said:

“I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about our new signage.”

  1. A character trait:

“I appreciate that you take ownership of our workspace and care about if it’s kept clean and safe.”

When you’re specific, your appreciation is more terrific.

Okay, it may seem corny but it’s true.  When you can take the time to specifically list what it is that you appreciate, then the fact that you noticed and that it has some impact is communicated just by the mere fact that you mentioned it.

  1. Personal

“Thanks all y’all for everything you do.”

That’s pretty general. Very vague. And, feels like something that someone is just checking off their list of things to do for the day.

Yes, it’s also a little Texan. (And, I am Texan and feel comfortable in saying y’all – even professionally).

However, whatever regional phrases you use – Make sure your appreciation is very specific to that person.

Before you communicate your appreciation answer these questions:

  1. What did this particular person do or say that you are grateful for?
  2. What’s the best way this person likes to receive a genuine ‘thank you’?

Remember, some people like to be thanked publicly.  Others do not.

Some appreciate gifts, gift cards and even tickets to activities. Some do not and lose the cards or tickets. Or, they bury them away.

Some really like a little extra time to be heard and to make a difference.

Some like plaques and certificates. Some see those as a waste of time.

Do you know your team members or the people you connect with enough to know the best way that is meaningful to them to be appreciated?

  1. Focus on how it matters or makes a difference to you

All of us want to know that we’re valued and that we matter.

Do you want to ignite someone’s productivity, motivation and dedication? Let them know in all sincerity how they’ve made a difference in your life. For business, you might want to focus more on your “work life”.

Knowing this, you know that saying thanks – even as specific as possible – is not enough.  You need to share not only what you’re thankful for but also share how that’s made a difference in your life.

  1. Share how it matters or makes a difference to the company and your customers

How their action has made a difference to you as an individual is important. But, it also matters that they know how they make a difference to the company or to customers.

Here’s an example:

I appreciate that you took the time to help that customer with their individual questions.  It takes a load of my plate so that I can focus on growing the business. And, I know you make sure our customers feel heard and helped. Thank you!

Let your appreciation do more, mean more and be received by the person you’re giving it to with the same meaning and sincerity of the intent.

Do It Yourself Thinking is Wrong for Networking Effectively

Do you remember the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”?   There’s a story in the book about a team that was making tremendous progress in their efforts of cutting down a forest.  When the leader of the group alarmingly shouts out “wrong forest”, someone instantly hollers back “be quiet – we’re making progress.”

I come across a lot of DIYers (do it yourselfers).  When you’re dealing with budding entrepreneurs, they are often doing many things themselves.

Do if yourself is the wrong way of thinking for networking

Imagine you were setting out to network with people today.  Let’s do the math. If you allot 30 minutes to connect with someone (imagine ordering a coffee or making it through a parking lot, building and a receptionist – none of these activities all in all can be done in less than 30 minutes each).  Then factor in travel time.  How many people would you be able to connect with today?

No. I’m not oblivious to social media.  Even then, imagine you’re attending a twitter chat, connecting with people afterwards on Twitter or another social network.  How many people can you meet, connect with and really converse with in one day?

And, even though each person on Facebook is said to have, on average, 229 friends, there are less people that we actually influence even when we are well connected online.

When you make networking with others a “do it yourself endeavor” we lose the exponential benefits of other people’s influence and other people’s credibility.

When we can borrow from another’s credibility (which is essentially what happens when someone edifies you as they introduce you to a connection of theirs), we meet at an elevated level of know, like and trust which shortens the time necessary for them to sample our character and competence.

Review these tips and insights to help you shorten the connection process and make friends and influence people:

Be the expert at what you’re an expert at

If you try to do everything yourself, you’ll be mediocre at everything.

That was an early lesson for me in my business.  Like any small business owner, I started as butcher, baker and candlestick maker in my business.  I admit. Some moments – I’m still that.

Effective networking is through and with people. In order to do that, it’s imperative that you give them the room to be the expert that they’re an expert of – which is their connections and contacts. After all, they’ve developed a relationship with them and they know what matters most to their contacts (more than you do.)

You, on the other hand, know what you know best. You’re the expert of your business.

Instead of developing the connections yourself, spend your time in creating a curriculum for your contacts on:

  1. What you’re best at,
  2. How you serve people,
  3. What you deliver and
  4. How they can best refer connections to you.

Too often, do it yourselfers, focus on driving the relationship.  To succeed at and maximize the return on your networking efforts focus on your expertise which is your business and the best ways to refer you.

Synergy creates serendipity

When you’ve taught your connections the best way to connect, describe and refer you, you develop a synergy that creates powerful introductions and referrals.

Here’s how to do this – develop a one page document and in it outline:

  1. Your goals and objectives for the year
  2. Who you serve best (your target market/client)
  3. Where to find this “best client” in large numbers (associations, conferences, events)
  4. What are some of the key phrases or comments someone will say that identify them as a great connection for you.
  5. Describe the best way to introduce you
  6. Make sure to have all your contact information starting with the first (and best) way to reach you.

For example, this is what my Networking Document would look like:

Goals and Objectives:  To develop a solid base of email newsletter clients (10 new clients each month)

Target Client:  Realtors, Restaurants and Renegades (Definition of renegade: solopreneur, independent professional, inventor, author, entrepreneur)

Where to Find them:

Realtors:  Board of Realtor functions, Chamber of Commerce events

Restaurants: Chamber of Commerce special events, charity gourmet galas

Renegades: Chambers of Commerce, SBA or SBDC events, blogs and Twitter chats

Key Phrases and Comments:  I can’t get any results from social media; What are you using to send out emails?; I don’t know if anyone’s opening or really reading our newsletter

Best Way to Introduce:  A virtual introduction via email sent to both of us; Or, provide their email address and please call ahead to them about me and to expect an email from me.

Do it yourself means less control

Know that when you are working with people who are making the connections for you, that you will not be able to control the speed or the flow of the connection.

Remember, the best way to incentivize someone to assist you is to:

  1. Do the same for them
  2. Appreciate their efforts

Others have done a great job articulating this:

It is average

I liken you doing everything in relationship building and developing connections to a person who is putting out an ad about themselves and calling everyone telling them how wonderful they are.  It just doesn’t work. And, it’s was the average beginner does.

Yet, if you can work closely with a team of people who are already advocates for you and teach them the best way and who to best refer to them – the opportunities are endless.

That third party endorsement from someone that they know, like and trust could be just the thing that someone needs to know before they would ever consider even speaking with you.

Focus on networking effectively.  It will expedite your connection and even develop your relationships at a stronger more meaningful level.