I recently had an experience in networking that started off good, then went so-so, then went good, and then “meh?”, and then … it went … indifferent. I actually thought long and hard about reliving the anecdote through my blog, but decided to move forward anyway. While what I am about to disclose may cause me to lose some in my network, I want to tell it anyway. Since I have such a strong response to the Freelance 101 workshops I hold at the studio, and since I wanted to do one more Biz Shiz 101 post before the holidays, I thought the artists and people who join me once a month for the workshop and those who like to hear about business mistakes and mishaps would like to hear this one.
Summary: Often times I am asked to participate free of charge at events in exchange for some exposure be it through social media, advertising, word-of-mouth referrals, etc. I’m usually asked to offer tips and tricks on trends, give advice, or do mini-makeovers. I am always open to these events especially when I can see that the other company and I have similar goals, philosophies, ideas – etc. It’s a win-win for all, really. Anyway, earlier this year I was asked to participate in such an event for women with small businesses. Again, the promise was constant promotion through social media outlets with an increase in same closer to the event plus, plenty of tweeting during the event.
Okay, so let’s break it down.
The Good: I agreed to do the event about three weeks before it was being held.
The So-So: Between the day I confirmed my attendance to the day before the event – NOTHING. No Facebook links to BlushPretty, no tweeting, nothing. Oh wait – except for one link to my site through their newsletter. The newsletter only went out to their subscribers. Except for a confirmation email after our phone discussion when I agreed to do the event, I received no updates. Even the day before the event, I still hadn’t heard from the organizers and I myself had to email them and ask what’s up. I made mention in my email that I had no “social media” anything thrown my way in the past three weeks and wasn’t even sure if the event was still moving forward. I received a reply, afterwards, confirming the event was still moving forward and an apology for the lack of social media acknowledgement. That day, Elaine said they tweeted once about my attendance.
The (back to) Good: I went to the event with a smile on my face, but reservations. Those reservations were easily washed away when I finally met the organizers in person and realized they are really nice people. I chalked up the few snafus to them being very busy and in fact enjoyed myself that night, talking to their guests and listening to their guest speaker. I was also assured a free listing on their website in exchange for where they dropped the ball. So, okay – it was a snafu, but I wear big girl panties, it can be forgotten.
I actually tweeted a lot that night. I also followed everyone I met immediately and posted pics all over my social media. The next day I noticed some of my tweets were retweeted. And I did get some thanks and praise from the guests, etc. That was nice.
The Meh?: So, I did get a shout out from the organizers on social media that night. But no follow-up email. No thank you for participating. No note. Not even a follow up about the free-listing I was promised (FYI: I’m not so concerned about having that free listing though). I actually emailed both organizers a few days later, thanking them for the opportunity and OFFERING THEIR GUESTS a promotional price for skin treatments at fresh.beautiful: the skin studio. A really discounted price. Again, radio silence. Not a “thank you so much” or “how nice of you”. A week and a bit passed from that email, and I just assumed it went to SPAM or who knows. But then I get a call from one of the guests about a week later who wants to take advantage of the promotional price and says how great it is that I am doing this for the group. NOT THE ORGANIZER but one of the guests. This means that the organizers DID get my message, emailed it out to their group, BUT DID NOT REPLY TO ME.
Um – what?!?!
Needless to say, this is where I became indifferent. So here is the lesson my lovely little entrepreneurs, freelancers, and friends:
Nothing is received better than common courtesy, manners and respect.
If you are trying to build your network, if you are trying to build your business, if you are trying to build a respectable brand, you need to acknowledge and maintain your network with courtesy and respect. You have to hold up your side of the bargain. You have to be present. You have to be aware. You have to remember your please and thank-yous.
Now I am not saying I wanted a whole bunch of exposure and kudos in return for participating in their event. I knew it would be a small event and I knew the ROI would be small, but still favourable. I went in knowing this.
I did not go in thinking that my emails would be unanswered, that I would have to do my own follow-ups, or that, I would be cast aside after the event. I reached out to them with that last email hoping to maintain a relationship and work together in future events. When I didn’t hear from them, I assumed they didn’t feel the same way about my services. However, I was good enough to pass out a great deal to their subscribers.
Result: bad taste in my mouth
I am definitely open to working with their guests that I met that night. The guests have been lovely, open and communicative and have even left notes on Facebook and Twitter for me. It seems the people the organizers are providing guidance to seem to know a little more about maintaining networks than they do. Hmmmm …
So that is my most recent biz shiz story. I would LOVE to hear if you have ever been in a similar situation, what you would have done in my shoes, and overall, what ya think …