Redesign to stay relevant! Sometimes it takes a horrific tragedy, like COVID -19 in order to really uncover the true meaning of re-design or re-branding in your business. If you are a small business like myself, using the new found “time” in your day to reflect on the current business relationships you have, review your business plan, check the balances on your bank account and determine where you can make the biggest impact is a priority.
For those that know me, my foundation and my mission – they know I love heading to events, ones I produce or where I am a guest and seeing people I know, some friends and some new acquaintance. I truly enjoy hearing about how people are doing in their business and how they create work-life balances, hoping they are thriving and then leave at the end of the night, fulfilled – a night of good networking and relationship building is good for everyone. Until now….
I tried the zoom meetings, on-line happy hours, podcasts and surfing LinkedIn for some content but none of that was helping to re-design my business that once thrived in a world of face to face contact. In my business world, I would meet clients, stand on stage and lecture about finances, run around facilitating relationships and grow my contact list. It was not until COVID that I was able to take a step back and reflect on my world of crazy and create a new plan to manage it. Leaders are born in times of diversity and my first starting point was to see what my mentors were doing. Second step was to create my own accountability plan and then start my deep-dive.
So, it took me until about mid April 2020 to get over my networking withdrawal. Yes, I said it – the pain, loneliness and stress of feeling displaced and knowing I needed to re-evaluate my business model. It took me a little bit to actually separate who are my friends, my business friends or business associates. Once I was able to make the determination, I took some time to place them in categories. A,B,C and D – They are all equally important but how I created my plan of accountability relied on me knowing the difference!
A. Business friends where we actually exchange business
B. Business friends where we see each other at social events and are connected via social networks
C. Friends only
D. Social media contacts only (never met and no relationship)
I decided by creating the categories and designing a plan to stay in touch with each category was much more effective. I made a calendar and held myself accountable to specific tasks each week. For example: each Tuesday I post on social media about business. It can be an article that is relevant to my line of work or just a marketing piece that I designed to remind people that I am still in business and taking clients. I do not want to over post – so I chose carefully what content makes sense and carefully create a strategy to remain relevant. Every two weeks I send a text message to at least 10 people that are on my B list – it is a quick hello, just thinking about you and hope your doing well. These are fast but a little more personal. The
goal is to make sure that I let the B’s know that they are important and even though we can not see each other, I am still thinking of them and so on. In business, every person, contact and “category” is important – how you manage the contact is the difference.
Next is the “starting something new challenge.” This has not been the best experience for me but it is working. This is where I have been taking time, sending personal messages to people that I have wanted to make relationships with,( my D category ) were softly introduced in the past or that I feel may be a good partner in the future. After reviewing all my relationships, it appears that the 80/20 rule in business is still relevant. I am taking time to comment on their business and scheduling time for a phone meeting. I will be honest, some of theses meetings are quick. I am sure that most readers will agree that you can tell within the first 5 minutes if you have a “warm fuzzy” about the person. If I did not feel a connection, I thanked them for there time, agreed to stay connected and I moved on. I have however, managed to walk away with some new deep relationships which have more value then some that have been around for years. The ones that have been around, again, re-evaluate your business and theirs and determine if they should be moved to a different category. I know that some of my contacts once referred a lot of business but with a transition to a new employer or company, they can not always continue to refer, but they are still a good source of relationships – just not referrals. It is knowing the difference that can empower you.
Next is “Playing well in the sandbox.” I have taken some time to look at the “who know’s who” and where I can ask for a professional introduction. Since we are not out networking, it is nice to check your categories and see who know’s someone that can connect you. It is important to ask if they have a relationship with them, if they do not ( their D list ) the introduction will not have as much meaning and most likely not have an end result. I have had several business associates email me asking if I had personal relationships with people that I was connected to, if I did, I created the introduction.
Staying focused on your business, making changes that are necessary and staying relevant are the real challenges that all of our small business owners like myself are facing. We are living in a new culture, so taking the time to mature the right relationships makes the most amount of sense. I use to take the time to fit the round peg in the square box if I met someone that I liked, now I do not have time, I move on. It sounds selfish, maybe even rude but the truth is it has freed me from relationships that were just never going to work ( move them to a different category ). I am proud of what I have built during COVID and staying focused on your future plan is the key.
So welcome to my new radio show, an idea that sat in my draw waiting to be born. The Diversity Project is my new radio show, starting this September 2020 on LI News Radio 103.9. I am an avid listener to the station, Long Island’s only, all news channel for years. I had an opportunity presented to me (by a friend on my B list) and during a business meeting the vision I had came to life. It is all about the timing. I have been working on the ideas, content, guests and sponsors, all tasks that I did with my role at EFF, that I handle well, so the
transition has been great. I feel empowered that with the show I can help brand local business partners and give voices to some organizations ( not for profits ) that may never recover from this pandemic.. I am most excited for people to embrace the mission of the show. TDP is a weekly show where we will discuss “hot topics” with multiple guests, each with a different viewpoint. The listeners will hear from 3-4 specialists giving a well rounded view of each topic.
I am taking the time to continue to serve my client with Equity First, LLC, a position that I love as it allows me to be creative in helping my clients overcome financial challenges such as credit card debt, mortgage relief, student loan assistance, etc. As the Executive Director of the Equity First Foundation, I am still working with my board to bring online programs and free financial services to our community but I am now adding radio host, to my title, allowing me to use this platform to help the many people that have supported our communities for years, giving voices to those that feel beaten and to uplift and enrich the people that we call neighbors by creating content that has meaning and value. Stay tuned for more information.
To reach me direct, email me at Rhonda@equityfirstfoundation.org or call (631) 714.4822
Categories: Model Citizens Magazine