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Face-to-Face Networking Still Works

34th Bangalore Wikimeetup, 12 June 2011 images...

I’ve said it many times. Networking is not my favorite thing to do as a small business owner. However, it is necessary to doing business of any kind. Last year I wrote an article on face-to-face networking for Fall 2012 issue of  Annals of Psychotherapy and Integrative Health. While social networking through electronic means such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are still very popular, according to my research, nothing beats a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

I wasn’t surprised by this. Practically all of the freelance jobs I’ve contracted in the last seven years have been through old-fashioned networking and word of mouth referrals in my community. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that makes the difference” holds true even in the digital age. Face-to-face networking can happen at any time. Yes, it happens at social gatherings and business conferences, but it can also happen unexpectedly at the dentist’s office or grocery store. That means we must be ready for those opportunities when they arrive.

Since you probably can’t go out and buy a copy of Annals of Psychotherapy and Integrative Health on your local newsstand (it’s a bit of a niche publication), I’ve summarized the main points of my article below. Read More…


Business Ethics

wrong way / right way

wrong way / right way (Photo credit: undergroundbastard)

I’ve been researching a piece on how to run a private investigation agency. That’s one of the things I really like about being a freelancer. I get to work on some very interesting and diverse projects.

In researching the basic practices of running such a business, I discovered that business ethics play an important role in being a private investigator. It occurred to me as I read manuals, websites, and how to books about this particular job, that good ethical practices aren’t just for private investigators they are for all types of businesses. While some entrepreneurs try to get ahead by cutting moral corners, ethical business behavior is still the foundation needed for building a solid business that will stand the test of time. But what is ethical behavior? Read More…

When Good Jobs Go Bad

Original caption: I decided to see if I could ...

Original caption: I decided to see if I could catch the motion of Dominos falling. It took me ages to get the timing right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Running a home based business is not always easy. It’s been two weeks since my last post on time management. I’ve implemented my plan with mixed success. I’ve scheduled more times to work and have been quite productive, but unexpected problems always seem to pop up. It’s as if everything that could go wrong has gone wrong creating a domino effect. One late job affects the next job. One missed deadline leads to another, and I hate missing deadlines.

Luckily all my clients are very understanding. I’ve worked with most of them for years and have built a good working relationship with them. That makes me want to meet my deadlines even more.

Read More…

Is the Customer Always Right?

My answer to that question is a qualified “no.” Sometimes the customer is right and sometimes the customer is wrong.

As a freelance writer/editor, I work with a variety of clients with varying degrees of experience with writing and/or editing copy. They come to me because they either don’t know how to do a certain job or they don’t have time. As a freelance writer, I use my experience to help my clients communicate in a professional way and meet their business goals. Some clients have very specific ideas on how a job should be done while others let me take the lead.

Do we always see eye-to-eye? No. There are times when we disagree on how to do a job or how the end product should look. Now, I could spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince my client to agree with me, but that’s not always the best way to go. Disagreements could cost me a job, but I have yet to lose a client because we didn’t agree. I like to think this is because of my approach to customer service.

As a service provider, my job is to make the client happy—not be right. I love the quote attributed to Laura Ashley that says, “We don’t want to push our ideas on to customers, we simply want to make what they want.”

When I disagree with a client, I express my concerns and opinions respectfully and try to help the client make the right decision for their company/organization. But ultimately I defer to the client for the final decision. The customer may not always be right, but they are the ones footing the bill and therefore should have the final say. An old saying makes my point: “Treat every customer as if they sign your paycheck…because they do.”

My motto has changed from “the customer is always right” to “make the customer happy.” It seems to be working for me. I feel that I have built very good working relationships with all my clients over the years. However, I’d love to hear how you deal with disagreements with customers. What mistakes have you made and what did you learn from that experience? Or what tactics have worked for you?

Anyone running a business of any kind can benefit from a little training in customer service—this writer included.