Solopreneur Smarts: Collaboration & Partnership Require Care!

Seriously? Social Shaming Tactics Really Suck!

Seriously? Social Shaming Tactics Really Suck!

It’s an almost every day occurrence. And almost every day I feel myself getting more irritated and twitchy by these social shaming shares.

You know what I’m talking about! I’m referencing the Copy/Paste poseurs, those on a mission to show that they care more about a disease or other worthy cause, because they’ve taken the 10 seconds to copy and paste a post to their wall.

Why Am I Saying These Copy/Paste Shares Are Social Shaming?

Isn’t social shaming what happens when a group of social media users rally to tell a company or brand that they don’t like an activity or idea shared by brand management or ownership. Yes, that’s one form of using public shame across social media platforms.

But it’s not the only example of shaming those we follow, those with whom we interact on social media.

It’s become an insidious practice, something we do without thinking of the ramifications.

This is actually the post that tipped the scales for me and bumped this topic to the top of my “get it written” queue:

With a heavy heart today especially…Nothing is more painful than watching someone at the end of their life because of cancer. Trying to look good, but after chemo and radiation … you know the person is physically changed and they’re in shock!! I know many of you do not give a hoot about this message because, of course, the cancer has not touched you. You do not know what it’s like to have fought the fight or had a loved one who leads a battle against cancer. For all the men and women I know, I ask you a small favor and only some of you will do it… If you know someone who has led a battle against cancer, still struggling or who passed, please add this to your status for one hour as a mark of respect and remembrance …

Copy and paste to support victims and families affected by cancer. From your phone or tablet, hold your finger on the message to copy and paste on your page. Please no tagging or sharing.

Cancer absolutely sucks. I’ve watched my mother battle it, and eventually lose her life to complications brought on by cancer treatment. I’ve watched my dad rally and come back strong after two cancer surgeries. I’ve watched a good friend face almost insurmountable odds as her young husband has battled cancer for years.

I care. I give one helluva big hoot, but I’m not going to copy/paste your pathetic message! One hour on my wall, with no call to action to donate and/or get out and support the cause, does little to NOTHING for that cause!

When I Care About A Cause, I Take Real Action … With My Money And/Or My Time!

The act of copying and pasting a post on your wall does very little to actually benefit any cause or individual. Stipulating no hashtags, tags or sharing means it’s more about you than the cause. You want to look like a crusader, a champion of the cause against cancer, child hunger, gun violence, the list goes on and on.

Actions Speak A Lot Louder Than Copied/Pasted Words!

My sister and her family ring the bell for the Salvation Army every Christmas season, at least once, often twice. They bundle up brave the cold and the indifference, singing songs and supporting a cause they believe in. The share images and call on friends and family to come out and see them while they sing and ring the bell, but they never use social shaming tactics.

My brother-in-law continues to put on a charity golf event each year, which also benefits the Salvation Army. Both money and gifts are collected at this event, with the chosen charity actually receiving the money and gifts.

My husband straight-up stinks at golf. But he’s played year after year, paying the entry fee, because it benefits a good cause. This year a tennis tournament has been added and I’ll be out there swinging my racquet in the cold. Yes, you’re right, I love tennis. But my wallet will be opened and my joy at playing will also benefit with dollars delivered for programs and initiatives.

Put Your Money, Your Time, Your Effort Behind A Cause, Not Your Facebook Wall!

If you truly care about cancer, and I believe many of you do, open up your wallet and donate to cancer research. Get your butt up from your desk chair and take part in a run, walk or other event sponsored by the charity of your choice. Visit the pediatric oncology ward with the gift of books and your time. Sit down and read one of those books to a child, or group of children, battling cancer.

At the very least, if you can’t get away from your desk, pull out your credit card and create a monthly withdrawal if the cause is that important to you.

Your Cause Isn’t Any Better Than My Cause!

Last year I donated time, dollars and effort to a cause that matters to me, as I’ve seen it affect so many friends. I was part of a small group that launched a charity pro-am event to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Atlanta.

I donated a website, Facebook and Twitter design and management, and spent hours at planning meetings. I donated out of pocket as needed to help get the event off the ground. I played in the event, and payed the full fee, even though I was a board member. Overall it was a sizable donation of both dollars and my time and effort. It felt quite good.

But, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about cancer. It doesn’t mean I diss those looking to deliver awareness about those suffering from diabetes or Alzheimers. It doesn’t stop me from worrying about the stray cat problem in my neighborhood (any of you that know me at all know that animal adoption is another cause I back with my dollars and my time and even room in my house … hello, Catt Damon).

Perhaps my dollars are already allocated. Perhaps my time is already taken up by activities that actually benefit my cause of choice.

Make It About The Cause, Not About You …

When I see these social shaming posts making the rounds, I cringe and often want to holler at my computer screen.

These posts are nothing more than a means to share a “look at me, see how much I care about this cause” moment, a moment which is soon forgotten amidst a fast social feed and friends leading busy lives.

Want to really make a difference to a cause this year? When someone asks what you want for Christmas, ask them to make a donation in your name? See if there’s a toy drive in your local area and drop off a couple of toys to help make a child’s Christmas a little brighter. Crochet or knit a scarf, hat and some mittens and leave them on a bench or tree, with a note that they’re free for the taking for someone who needs them.

I’m calling on your to care and act, rather than copy/paste during this season of giving and sharing. Set social shaming aside and do something that truly benefits the cause in which you believe!

Facebook Groups And The Freebie Fallacy …

Facebook Groups And The Freebie Fallacy ...

Once again I find myself ruefully shaking my head at the antics and atrocities perpetuated by many a member of numerous Facebook groups to which I currently belong.

It’s bad enough that many a member fails to understand that self-promotion is generally a no-no, or scheduled for specific days of the week/month. But when members begin to believe that the group is their free online university and business resource refuge, it’s really time for admins to step up and shout out STOP IT!

Brain Pickers Best Back Off!

Facebook groups aren’t a “gimme” zone. They weren’t designed as a means for you to get your grubby hands on extreme expertise and carefully crafted documents we’ve put hours of energy and sweat equity into.

What does that mean? Don’t ask group members to provide their carefully crafted contracts and client on-boarding documents to you as a “template.” More than likely we’ve spent time and money to create documents strategically suited to our brand and prospect base. Why would you think we’d provide that to you for free?

Investing in your business and brand involves a hell of a lot more than you asking others to give you the goods as a gimme!

When I see this happening in Facebook groups I’m reminded of the coffee or lunch date, which is a thinly veiled disguise for brain picking. You want my expertise? Pony up and pay for it!

Sort Out Your Own Settings

As a creative entrepreneur, I’m in many a group populated with a plethora of photographers, brand strategists, stylists (more on that sad term in a future publish), graphic artists and more. Many of these folks use some pretty sophisticated software and equipment in order to create their awesome products and services.

It’s absolutely okay to ask group members what software and tools they recommend. It’s stepping over the line when you ask group member to share the specific settings they have developed over time and trial and error. Those aren’t yours for the asking, they’re yours for the testing.

Paid for that fancy new camera and lens because you want to be a wedding photographer? I suggest you head out to a venue on an off day with some stand-ins and sort out your settings yourself. That’s expertise. You shouldn’t expect expertise to be handed to you on a platter.

The same goes for code, site scripts, graphic design settings, etc. Someone put a lot of time and effort into the creation of that custom work. Why would you think they’d just give it away?

Advice Is A-OK, But Group Audits? You’re Pushing It?

As a web designer and developer, I often weigh in when the WordPress vs. Squarespace discussions comes up. And it comes up ALL THE TIME, LOL. I’m happy to talk up WordPress and why I think it makes the web wonderful.

What I’m not willing to do? Engage in endless site design and redesign audits as a favor. Why not? Because that’s an expert service that I provide, for a fee. It’s not a freebie I give away in Facebook group grab bag fashion.

I’m not a member of Facebook groups because I like to do individuals I barely know a favor. I’m there to engage in expert discussion, and sometimes to offer a bit of support when I can do so without giving away the store, so to speak.

If you want to eventually collaborate with others, you need to bring your own expertise to the table, not continually ask for the expertise to be given to you as a freebie.

There are no free rides when it comes to running your own business.Click To Tweet

You get what you put into it, what you invest in it, what you work to build, bolster, create and brand!

Facebook Groups Are NOT A Freebie Zone!

I don’t take part in Facebook groups in order to give away my hard earned knowledge and expertise. I’m happy to occasionally share my .02 cents on a learning topic, but I’m not your teacher, your coach, your mentor. That’s a relationship that stretches the boundaries of the online group experience.

If you’re there hoping to gain knowledge and expertise without having to invest dollars, time and sweat equity you just might find yourself disappointed.

Consider this. The group members willing to give it all away for free are generally group members just starting out and hoping to get the good for free, too. It’s not the in-the-trenches entrepreneurs who’ve put in the hard time, tested the tools, tweaked the algorithms and sorted out the best settings.

You get what you pay for, party peeps. Free advice, fast advice and group audits will only take you so far.Click To Tweet

Those in the know, those who are truly experts only give away the smallest helping of their smarts and savvy. If you want the whole shebang, you’ll have to loosen the purse strings and shell out a little dough.

Ever Feel Like You’re Giving It All Away In A Facebook Group?

Why are you doing so? What are you expecting to get in return? When you’re giving it away for free, there’s little chance you’re going to land a paying client, is there?

Small Business Smarts: Make Time For Your MOST Important Client!

Small Business Smarts: Make Time For Your MOST Important Client!

Paying the bills means getting the client work done! There’s no getting around it.

But, consider this … what happens if you get the client work done and the pipeline is empty?

Maintaining a steady stream of new and repeat business depends on you making some quality time for your V.I.P. client.

Your MOST Important Client Is Y-O-U!

This can be a bit hard to grasp, because when you work on your own site, your own content, your own visuals, you don’t see the immediate return on the time invested. You can’t invoice yourself.

It's important to remember that ROI is rarely immediate.Click To Tweet

The effort you put in, the creativity you share, over time, builds presence, trust and expertise. All of this, and so much more, come together to create your brand.

You + Your Business = Your Brand!

Many a small business owner puts hours into creating a mood board, color scheme, logo and tagline. And then call it done when it comes to branding.

When it comes to brand messaging, a tagline is merely the tip of the iceberg.Click To Tweet

How are you sharing your message with others? Are you actively bolstering your brand across social media channels? Are you creating content worthy of reading, bookmarking and sharing?

Are you responding to queries and client ideas, on message and on brand, in a timely fashion?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not impressed when replies to my emails, tweets and private messages are answered in a rush well after business hours. I don’t care that you deem yourself a night owl, I’m not getting the best you have to offer when I’m your last task of the long night.

Your brand is the trust you build amongst your clients, prospects and peers. Doesn’t that deserve your best time and energy, your mind fresh and brimming with ideas?

Create The Right Time For YOUR Small Business Success

You should be blocking out time, EVERY DAY, that benefits your business. Time when your mind is fresh, not tired and ready to clock out.

If the hours required to build your business are tedious, you just might be in the wrong business. Your brand and its management, maintenance and continued build should be as exciting as every project you take on for a client.

Your brand and its messaging should not regularly fall to the bottom of your priority or to-do list.

Of course you have to meet and exceed the expectations of your paying clients. You certainly can’t let deadlines slide, nor can you fail to deliver. But doesn’t your own brand, your own business, deserve the same effort, energy, expertise and excitement?

Of course it does!

Sales Seldom Surge Sans Effort …

Selling your small business, your products and services, requires your best efforts. Not the final few minutes before your brain completely ceases proper function.

If you’re sandwiching the social media and other marketing of your small business between loads of laundry, how can you expect it to impress others?

Sales must be consistent to successfully run a business. Your marketing, your branded messages shared, are part of your sales process. They’re the backbone of the trust building necessary to take a lead from prospect to contracted client. They must be consistent, timely, creative, and on message bits of your brand.

That requires a sound, smart and savvy mind. That requires you setting aside the right time, the proper amount of time, the time your V.I.P client deserves.

Your Business Is Your V.I.P. Client!

Are you treating it that way?

So, Solopreneur … Sadly, Sometimes Nice Sucks!

So, Solopreneur ... Sadly, Sometimes Nice Sucks!

Just be nice. It’s a phrase that regularly graces many a social media article, Facebook wall and Twitter stream. There’s a movement, if you will, backed by many a pretty big name in the digital marketing biz, including a man I admire and infrequently engage with in short bursts of sock strewn banter.

That’s right, I’m talking about the terrific Ted Rubin and his take on “just be nice.”

I’m about to share something that might not be common knowledge!

SHOCKER: I’m actually a pretty ding-danged nice person.

I know, I know. I’ll probably have to prove it to you, over time, but you could ask most of my circle of social peers, and they’d tell you I’m a pretty stand-up gal who’s always willing to tackle a dilemma.

That being said …

Nice Isn’t My First Choice When It Comes To Business!

While nice is, well … nice enough when used to describe a guy or gal – it’s not how I strive to be seen by my peer group or my client base.

Instead of nice, I prefer to be seen as:

  • creative
  • professional
  • fair
  • real
  • funny
  • honest
  • timely
  • aware
  • direct
  • and a slew of other words … all more important to me than “nice.”

Being Good To People Goes Beyond Nice!

Though I don’t embrace “nice” as the end all, be all attribute that many in my social circles, do, it doesn’t mean I fail to see the importance of being good to others. To my husband, my family, my friends, as well as my peers and clients.

Sometimes a little constructive criticism is necessary in order to be good to those with whom you work.

We don’t generally think of the word “NO” as nice. But what I call the “necessary N-O” is often required when it comes to project management and actually meeting the needs of your clients.

Here’s a simple example. It’s certainly NOT nice to turn down a slice of pie when you’re at a family or business dinner. But, say you’ve been working hard to embrace a healthier lifestyle and you’ve chosen to indulge on the entree rather than dessert. Do you HAVE TO be nice and take the slice of pie?

Sometimes being good to people means telling them something they might not want to hear at the moment.

If successful relationships are built on trust, then nice needs to be taken out of the equation.

How much can you really trust someone who sugarcoats every response in a bid to be nice?Click To Tweet

When Nice Simply Sucks!

Let’s be honest. Our attempts to be nice often land us in some serious deep doodoo!

Have you decided to be nice to the client who keeps making change requests and pushing back delivery dates? Guess what? Doing so means the project won’t be completed on time as you slide ever deeper into scope creep.

Have you decided to be nice and not raise your prices for long-term, grandfathered-in, clients? Only to have them nitpick and question everything you’re doing, even though they’re paying almost half the fees you’re charging your newer clients?

Ever thought it would be nice to trade your services for complimentary services? Barter isn’t a bad thing. Until that complimentary service provider disappears without a trace, having taken delivery on your end of the arrangement, while sending you absolutely nothing in return!

I could go on and on with the “be nice” moments that leave you looking and feeling like a sap. But I think I’ve made my point.

Just Be Professional!

Instead of nice, I prefer to make professionalism my intent and purpose.

Professional is often equated with polite, but there’s nuance to the idea of professionalism, just as their is nuance and shades of gray when it comes to being nice.

There’s no single, one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to being good to your brand, your business and your clients. You have to find the level of “being good” that best fits. I deliver my good with a more firm hand than you might. Does that mean I’m not a nice person? Maybe. Maybe not.

But, my bills get paid on time, my clients respect me, and my word of mouth referrals keep going strong. So, I’m pretty happy with the good I’m delivering.

Has Being Nice Ever Bitten You In The Butt?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with being nice, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Drop me a note in the comments section or chat me up on one of the social channels where I share this publish!