The Early Bird

Sometimes it can be the smallest of things that leads to a lost opportunity. Small things that can, I think, be easily corrected.

I had a personal example of this recently while working on a proposal for a branding project. I needed to gather some price information for some elements of the project. In two cases, I contacted two different individuals, asking for some estimates. In each of these cases, one of the people got back to me right away – the other, not at all.

There could be many reasons for this:

  • The “junk mail” file
  • They missed or accidentally deleted the email
  • They were too busy
  • They were not interested
  • They were unaware that others were in the mix

Still, each of these issues could – and should – be addressed for those who are interested in building a solid business, because truly “the early bird does get the worm.” If you’re concerned about establishing a strong reputation and avoiding missed opportunities, I’d recommend:

  • Checking your junk mail file regularly. I know it seems to somehow defeat the purpose of having one in the first place but I have found many important email messages among the junk – enough so that I continue to check.
  • Taking your time when reading through the masses of emails you receive.  I’ve inadvertently deleted emails myself and still have to force myself to take my time as I’m clicking through messages, but I’m paranoid enough about missing an opportunity that I try to “take it slow.”
  • Even if you’re too busy, taking the time to respond. Too busy today, doesn’t necessarily mean too busy tomorrow, next week – or next year. Business is all about relationships. Ignoring the potential for a relationship – even if you don’t want the work – may seem okay when times are good, but may be regretted later.
  • Even if you’re not interested, taking the time to respond (see above). When I’m asked about a project that I’m either not interested in or don’t feel I have the right expertise/background for, I always get back to the person requesting info or help and, whenever possible, recommend other alternative sources. Bottom line – don’t burn bridges.
  • Recognizing that most of the time when you get a request from a prospect/potential customer, you are not the only one they’re contacting. That means that you’re competing with others not only in terms of the quality/price of your product or service, but in terms of who is most responsive. I’ve worked with companies that took their time in responding to customer inquiries or RFPs while bemoaning the fact that business was declining. Hmmm. I wonder why…

The early bird does get the worm. If you want business and want to build a solid reputation that generates word-of-mouth and more business, remove whatever barriers may exist that are conspiring to make you be – or appear to be – non-responsive.

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