Working with people is key to the writing business – clients, graphic designers, web designers, printers, photographers, coders, techies, other writers. If I can’t get along with these folks, all is lost. I have been fortunate that these relationships usually go quite well. But sometimes they don’t.
I struggled with writing this post. Do I want you all to see behind the curtain? That some days are difficult? That I’m not perfect? That I make mistakes? And, then I laughed at myself, a bit cruelly. Who do I think I am? Who do I think you are? Of course you know that I’m human…sheesh.
So, I’m writing this post about business relationships gone wrong. But instead of telling you the sad, pathetic stories, I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned. Because this chick moves forward. I felt really bad for about an hour (or more) about each slip, but then I moved on – and here I stand, virtually naked, before you.
1. Slow down. When I rush and feel frantic about closing deals or solidifying partnerships, it’s not good. When I’m moving too fast, I ignore the red flags – I pretend that they are just red roses…that happen to be waving violently in front of my face. When I am in a rush, it oozes all over my clients and looks like pressure, bullying and desperation. Not pretty.
2. Check in with your gut. As things unfold, how do they feel. I hate to sound ‘Secret’-like. But your gut and how you feel really are excellent guides. I’ve had situations where I literally couldn’t write a word, as if my hands and my keyboard were both positive sides of a magnet – repelled from each other with an invisible, but tangible, buffer. The work didn’t feel right, and my very self could not perform the tasks.
3. Stick to your guns. Don’t let people push their agendas on your clients and your business practices. Remember that as a freelancer, writer, designer, business owner, it is your name attached to your work. Make sure that your own values are attached as well. You are your own independent, brilliant and successful person – act like it and stand up for what you think is right.
4. Keep some eggs in your own basket. Someone may come along with the promise of a partnership or a lot of work that they’ll throw your way. It will sound so good, too good. And it might be real, and it might be smoke. Explore it, take risks, stretch your options – but do not lose yourself, your clients, your business, your philosophy, your ethics or your cash flow in the excitement. Eventually, if say, over 6 months to a year, there are no red flags and the partnership is solid and productive, then you can bring the rest of the eggs with confidence.
5. Check in with those you trust. Did you watch the West Wing? I did, voraciously. There is an episode where President Bartlet (oh, how I miss you) is talking to the Secretary of Agriculture who was chosen to stay in the White House during the State of the Union so that someone could run the country if congress was bombed that night. And my dream president says, “If anything happens…do you have a best friend? Is he smarter than you? Would you trust him with your life? That’s your chief of staff.” This is not quite that severe, but I would reach for the sentiment. If you have people that are smart, honest and love you, take the time to bounce things off of them, let them read that email before you send it, let them support you and your challenges…and do the same for them.
There. Naked. How do I look? Better yet, how do you look? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’ve made mistakes too – tell me what you’ve learned, and we can lean on each other…just a little bit.