I find myself spending more time on Linkedin because it’s a great place for professional networking, something that I doubt Facebook will ever be capable of doing. I have experienced some great interactions, and some that make me wonder how people survive in their jobs. The less-than-stellar discussions got me thinking about how they apply to business in general. Here are 3 mistakes I have seen.
Not listening to the client
In one group that discusses search engine optimization (SEO), someone will occasionally ask for recommendations for a company that provides SEO services. The last request I read stated that the SEO company must be based in the USA and proposals must be sent to a certain email address. Underneath the request was a list of responses from companies based in different countries, sending proposals in ways that are different than requested.
This begs the question, how far are you going to get with a customer when you can’t even follow the instructions for the introduction?
I have been in meetings with other developers where the customer was giving information for a project, and then a developer (not me) asked a question that was just discussed and answered completely. In the silence that follows you know that everyone is thinking “where were you for the last 20 minutes?“. Not only is this frustrating to the customer but it wastes everyone’s time.
A wise person told me that if you’re thinking of your response while the customer is talking then you aren’t listening. I would add to this “if you are working on other projects while the customer is talking then you aren’t listening”. In this age of computers and phones we have the ability to multi-task, but that doesn’t mean that we should.
Lying through your Keyboard
One person asked for referrals for English language copywriting and proofing services. Some of the responders claimed to provided the needed services, however, their replies had some of the worst spelling and grammar mistakes and a few obviously did not know English very well.
As the classic saying goes “Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive”. Lying is a tricky road to travel, and if you aren’t good at it then you just look like a fool. If you are a really bad liar then your basic intelligence is questioned. Lies will always catch up to you, usually at the worst times and once you’re caught it’s almost impossible for anyone to trust you. Also, if a customer catches you in a lie then the next thought is “what else is going on that I don’t know of yet?”.
Stick to the straight and narrow and you won’t have to worry about the “tangled web“.
Know what you sell
There was one discussion were an individual was asking how to perform search engine optimization for a website. This person wasn’t asking how to do certain aspects but how to do SEO in general. When I followed his link back to his company website I found that he was claiming to be a professional SEO and marketing expert. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, where somebody is trying to learn how to do the job they already claim to be an expert at.
I’ve sat through meetings where companies made promises I knew they couldn’t deliver (they were usually not pitching to me). Sometimes the charade was recognized and refused, other times it wasn’t and the project ended in disaster.
I don’t expect everyone to know everything, in fact, I believe that it’s important to always be looking for ways to learn and grow in your area of expertise. However, it’s fraud to claim to be an expert while trying to learn the basics. This may not amount to much more than lost business for the sucker that hires dishonest company but the stakes could be much higher when you are talking about security and e-commerce.
If you are a believer in the saying “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission“, well…you probably didn’t make it this far down (that’s a whole blog entry on its own). Just remember, social media enables people to share good and bad experiences with the world instantly. Granted, some people are impossible to please so just remember, ethics count, especially if you want repeat business or referrals. Respect for others and their time is not something that should be earned before given. And the golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you, (not he who makes has the gold makes the rules).
If you don’t treat others with respect and honesty, you have no reason to complain when it comes back to bite you.