Be honest with yourself. You’ve had that day in early April when the buds are on the trees, the sun is finally shining and that fat, lazy bumble bee keeps plunk, plunk, plunking into your office window. That day when you know your inbox won’t fill as quickly or the phone won’t ring as much because your clients are too busy doing exactly what you’re doing…fighting the fever. Spring fever.
With the start of Spring comes the start of the family vacation season. If the past is any indication, your customers and colleagues may prove to be less available to make decisions, give direction or fuel immediate opportunities. While your workflow is ebbing, it might be tempting to enjoy the lull. (I can feel you nodding in agreement.) But if put to good use, this time can offer you the opportunity to restock your knowledge bank on the industry you work in, the trends affecting that industry and the tools to keep in your belt in the name of doing right by your customers. Although not an exhaustive list, below are some things you can do to make the most of your time in the slow lane:
Get through that stack of trade publications. Spend some time with the trade rags for the industry you serve. In addition to reading the articles, take in the larger landscape — what is trending? Where are your competitors advertising? Context is everything and when you’re charged with offering solid, strategic solutions for your customers, you’ll serve them better by having a good grip on the bigger picture.
Establish a link. While you are likely already LinkedIn with your customers, don’t underestimate the importance of connecting with other professionals in your industry, or those that relate to it. Take some time to really think about how the connections you make and the web you build will benefit your customers. Be strategic and intentional about enhancing your network.
Dig up some dirt. Who doesn’t love a good gossip magazine? (Yes, I’m talking to you, ladies.) Put that love of good dirt to good work. Read up on the competition. See what they’re doing, and maybe more importantly, what opportunities they’ve yet to capitalize on. The information you dig up can inspire a great idea, spur on some healthy competition or even help you set benchmarks for what NOT to do.
Attend a workshop. My boss likes to remind us that we don’t ever ‘arrive.’ He does this in a nice way, of course, so that we don’t feel downtrodden, but the point is well-taken. There is always room for improvement. Seek out a professional workshop in your area, or better yet outside of your area. You may want to brush up on your writing skills or better equip yourself to lead your company into the world of social media. Whatever the need, there are workshops all over the country that can help you on your quest for continual improvement.
The next time you notice that pesky bumble bee and realize you might see a slight stall in activity, turn it into an opportunity to learn, improve and reach beyond the day-to-day. Your customers will notice and appreciate your commitment to the industry, and you’ll be in a better spot to help them advance.
Oh, and as I was wrapping up this blog entry, a fat bumble bee literally ran straight into my window. No joke.