Hey is this thing on? Where’s the love??

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, whether we admit to it or not, we all want validation that we matter. That we’re acknowledged and appreciated. Or, for that matter, just gosh-darned loved. So why would it be any different in business? It’s time we show a little love or at least respect to colleagues, salespeople, job seekers, and freelancers whom we elect to ignore or delay responding to their messages. This is key in my book to restoring some degree of faith in society and in our abilities to be kind.

In my young professional life when the only forms of communication were the phone and snail mail (that would be paper in an envelope with that little square thing known as the stamp at the upper right-hand corner), I was trained to be impeccable in my follow up skills or else! Client leaves a message. Call back asap. Don’t have an answer to a client question? Call back and tell the client you don’t have an answer, but let them know when you will and follow through on your promise. In fact, now my biggest pet peeve in client service and number one rule is, “Never make the client follow up with you.” Even on a personal level, the majority of the time, I will stop what I am doing to reply to a text message not to let the sender hanging. I don’t like to be kept hanging and I assume others don’t either. And I’ll bet, neither do you.

I’ve had several email or LinkedIn conversations that look like this:

Sender: Hi Laura. How are you doing? Looks like you’ve been keeping busy. We should get together.

Me: Hi there, Sender! Would love to see you. What days and times work for you in the next week or so?

Sender: (Crickets)……………………

Me: (two weeks later) Hi Sender! Hope all is well. Following up on getting together. When would be a good time for you? Looking forward to seeing you.

Sender: (Crickets)…………………..

Is no response a response? I’d rather get a timely “no thanks” or “I’ll get back to you in a week” than no response at all. Was the sender just soooo busy that he/she couldn’t take a minute, just one minute to respond? I’ve had conversations with recruiters in the past to then never hear from them again about a position, even after I’ve followed up a few times. I do wish that people would grow a pair and have the guts to say “no” and be honest instead of ignoring me. It’s the right thing to do and it’s really rather cruel to let people wonder where they stand. I’m a closure person and I’d like to know if an opportunity is dead, still pending or if it’s just not the right time. But, sometimes I have to concede to moving on if I don’t get a response. If I do, then I’ll revel in the surprise or at least close the loop.

It’s interesting though what people will make time for and prioritize as important. The long line for daily coffee. A Facebook feed check or senseless post. I realize that everything can’t be on the radar as a priority, but I don’t think people expect a long drawn out sonnet of love as a reply to a message. I believe most people are reasonable in terms of response turnaround time expectations and I don’t think most people expect to be the “answer within 15 minutes” priority. But, how about 48 hours? Bottomline is no one wants to be blown off. No one wants to be made to feel unimportant or an afterthought. And I don’t think any of us wants to be responsible for making people feel that way. So take a minute for your fellow human being and respond!

Having been a perennial networker for either permanent positions or now as an entrepreneur, I can empathize completely with folks in similar situations. We wait and wait for a response. We wonder if our messages ended up in spam or ever made it to the recipient’s inbox. We wonder if the message was stupid and, therefore, ignored. Was the message too intrusive that it required a swift click of the delete button? LinkedIn may appear to be the new Rolodex (you know, that plastic spinny thing to organize contact information from back in the day), however, when you sign up to be a LinkedIn member, in my opinion, you have made a commitment to connect! So, go and connect!! Even if you send a LinkedIn invitation and it’s accepted, send a thank you note. If you collect business cards at an event, send a quick note to acknowledge the introduction. Hopefully, you get a response in return. We have email, texting, and IM capabilities to make communication easier and quicker, and still we can’t reply to people in a timely manner, if at all.

So, on this Hallmark holiday, my cherubs, whether you honor the day or believe it’s just a made-up holiday in the name of commercialism, think about acknowledging the people who take the time to connect with you. They may not be your priority, but especially for salespeople, freelancers and networking job seekers, don’t let them hang wondering if they can be of service to you, or if you can help them in some way by connecting them with other colleagues who may be able to assist with their inquiry. I know you’re busy, but you might be in their shoes one day, so make the effort. I promise you, it doesn’t take but a minute to show a bit of kindness. We are now in age of relationships not transactions. People want to be acknowledged beyond being “liked, followed, and shared.” Make the time and find the joy in making a connection or helping someone out. It will go a long way. And don’t forget…karma is real!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hugs, Laura

#bekind #showsomelove #linkedin #valentinesday