When you're a little fish in a big pond, you will get overlooked. And no matter what size fish you are or how big the body of water is, it is difficult to have your family see you as a business woman.
Most direct sellers are working their businesses as side gigs, and most of their days are spent in their primary roles as career women, moms, wives, volunteers, etc. They aren't bringing in the big bucks (yet), and the time they are working their businesses probably used to be the time they spent with their support systems.
Getting coffee with friends, watching TV, making home-cooked meals and volunteering at every school event is being replaced with training calls, parties, networking, marketing activities and growing a team. And although not all coffee dates are refused and not every meal is from a box, their support systems might feel neglected.
Less than 10% of the field for any direct sales company will get public recognition from the home office. Which means that more than 90% of the field aren't showing up in company newsletters, hobnobbing with big wigs on incentive trips, walking across stage at conferences or driving free cars. And when someone is new to her business or working hard to promote to leadership, the top performers' numbers aren't a fair comparison or accurate measure of her success.
Sometimes the consultant is stuck in the middle between her passion and her family. No matter how big she wants to build her business, the support of her family is important for her success. And it's hard for them to see the big picture when they are eating mac and cheese again and looking at numbers that seem unreachable.
But a carefully placed handwritten note can help put things into perspective. Her husband could come across a note casually left on the counter and read your words of praise for everything she's accomplished. You also write how proud you are and appreciate everything she brings to the team. And you close (or maybe you write several notes because this one could get long) with a sentence of how strongly you believe her perseverance will payoff.
Perhaps he will see her as more than a wife/mom/career woman/volunteer. Perhaps he will realize that she's kind of a big deal.
Celebrate every day,
Maybe you could answer the first question easily. And maybe your answer would be "this week" no matter when it was asked. But most people would have to think about the answer.
If you have a business, sending handwritten notes should be part of your job. It should be the easy part of your job. It should be considered a privilege. I realize that this is my opinion, but I'm not sure who could argue against it.
What are the reasons you get sent notes?
The cards you send to your team and clients are probably the only ones anyone sends them besides birthday and holiday cards. Their kids aren't writing notes telling them that they are the best laundry folder in the whole house. Bosses at the jobs they are hoping to quit don't leave notes on their desks telling them that they believe in them.
How does the handwritten note make you feel?
You get to be the person to sprinkle sunshine on someone's day. In fact, it could be the highlight of someone's day. If you don't do it, who will?
Celebrate every day,
Lather before you shave. One of my upline leaders said this to me early in my career because I had (still working on it) a tendency to be blunt. What it means is that you need to preface any constrictive criticism with a complement or a loving statement.
Shaving cream feels good. It smells good. It's soothing. It's fun to play with. It looks like whipped cream. Whipped cream is delicious.
Hard conversations are hard for both parties. No one wants to be in a conversation that starts with we have to talk. And even though no one is getting dumped or fired, you definitely don't want to hear what it said after those 4 words.
But if you lather first, it helps you to come from a positive place. You can acknowledge what's right and what's good. It softens what you have to say, and helps her hear it better.
The handwritten note can be the shaving cream to a hard conversation. Chances are that you're writing complementary, encouraging and loving messages in your handwritten notes. (If you're not, you're doing it wrong, and you probably really need to have someone sit you down and talk about your shaving techniques.) The more notes you send, the more shaving cream you're layering on.
With every note you send, you're building a relationship of trust and respect. You're showing her you care. That foundation makes it easier for you to give feedback and for her to hear what you're saying. And after the conversations that really sting, rereading the notes you wrote, will help soothe her.
When you write notes, don't do it with the intention that they will be used as shaving cream. Write sincerely. Write lovingly. And when you do, you'll be able to talk honestly.
Celebrate every day,
A few direct sellers work their businesses full-time. Most direct sellers are part-time. And some seem to forget they are consultants. But their businesses, and in turn your business, will benefit from handwritten notes.
Notes are fuel for your superstars who are already going full speed. They give them validation when they are on the rise. And when they run out of gas, they give them motivation when they reread them.
They are reassurance for the part-timers who are juggling business and life and struggling to balance. They are a periodic acknowledgement that they are on the right track and that they are noticed.
They are reminders for the the hobbiests that they are members of your team. And sometimes this reminder is a little nudge for them to take advantage of being a consultant and get something for themselves or tell a friend she can order from her.
Handwritten notes are a good thing. You can't have too much of a good thing. As long as your words are sincere, write on. Send praise to your superstars. Send encouragement to your part-timers. Send anniversary cards to your hobbiests. Tell them you appreciate them.
And each time you express your appreciation, you'll fall in love with your business a little more. And that's a good thing too.
Celebrate every day,
All of my digital inboxes have a ton of messages in them. Sometimes I go through and delete them, and sometimes I reread them. But it doesn't take long for the messages to get buried and forgotten.
Digital messages make it easy to search for a keyword if I want to go back and reference them. I search town names to find the confirmation emails of reservations I've made. I type "roster" to get the most updated list of the women's club I'm in. I use a main ingredient when I'm looking for recipes.
But the keywords aren't always obvious. If someone sends you a message of encouragement, she doesn't always put the word "encouragement" in the message. So what do you search for if you want to reread it? Her name? That works, but if she's sending you messages of encouragement, she's probably sending you a lot of messages, and you'll have to weed through business stuff, invitations, coupons, etc. before you find the one you're looking for.
So picture this . . . someone is having a terrible day. She had a setback in her job, the ice cream cone she bought to make her feel better dripped on her new white top, her phone updated and isn't working properly, and her side hustle isn't going as she planned. She might plop in front of her laptop and scroll through social media (because that's a self-esteem booster - not!), sift through emails (most of which she doesn't remember signing up for) and eventually, if she sticks with it, come across something from you that says you believe in her. She can read your typed words of encouragement on a back-lit screen, and it will probably make her feel better.
Or she could open up a drawer or look at her bulletin board and have messages of hope right in front of her because she's like most people and saves cards and letters. She can hold the cute card (probably a My Heart Beats card because they are the cutest) and read your handwritten words. They may be the exact words that you used in an email or a text, but they are so much more powerful in a handwritten note.
Word for word, the handwritten note is more bang for your buck.
Celebrate every day,
Writing down goals is a timeless technique to achieving them. Keeping a food diary is a proven way to lose weight. The handwritten note is an excellent tool to build a business. All of these things are tried and true, but yet most people don’t do them. Imagine how many thin, successful business women there’d be if more people picked up a pen and paper.
Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, said, “We’re not in the chicken business, we’re in the people business.” Guess what, you’re not in the chicken business either even if you also sell delicious chicken sandwiches. All of your customers are people. All of your team members are people. If you focus on building relationships, your business will grow.
I was a leader and top producer in 3 different direct sales companies over 15 years. My teams were highly productive. In one company, my team consisted of a third of the field and it produced 60% of the sales. The biggest difference between me and other leaders was that I sent 20 – 30 handwritten notes a month to my team. I still get messages from past team members telling me that those notes had an impact on them. I don’t have any irrefutable statistics, and my surveys might not be the most reliable despite the fact that they were conducted on social media, but I am certain a large part of my success in direct sales was a result of the notes I wrote.
I asked how do you feel when you get a handwritten note. Most people said they felt great, loved, appreciated, etc. One person said, “usually don’t care.” I don't know what happened to her in her childhood, but even the handwritten note can't fix everything.
When I started in the direct sales business way back in the day, not everyone had an email address, so my only option for written gratitude, encouragement and celebration was a handwritten note. As email became more popular, I stayed old school with thank you notes and team recognition. Sure, copying and pasting would have been easier, but I don’t think it would have been as impactful. Besides, I had already built up a big stash of note cards I wanted to use.
It is going to take several blog posts to go over the who, what when, where, how and why of note writing. Let's start with why.
Why should you send handwritten notes?
Here is a quote of a response to a question on the survey: In our world of text, e-mail and instant messaging, communication has evolved to be high tech but low touch. A handwritten note communicates a level of value and importance - that something/someone was worth the time.
The respondents of the survey preferred handwritten notes more than 2:1 to all electronic communication combined. Most respondents did say they also like social media posts and emails as long as the messages are personal and genuine.
When the respondents were asked what forms of communication they saved, 91% said they save handwritten notes, 50% save emails, 41% save texts and 0% save ecards.
I also asked two separate questions:
Q: What percentage of hand-addressed snail mail do you open?
A: All respondents said 100%
Q: What percentage of email do you open?
A: Answers ranged from 20 – 100% with 50% being the most frequent answer.
You have a choice of how to send written communication with your team and customers. If you want what you say to have a lasting impact on them, to make them feel special and appreciated and to be guaranteed they are going to open it, your choice should be the handwritten note.
Some of this is taken from the introduction of The Note Book: How to Use the Handwritten Note to Build a Bigger Business.
Celebrate every day,
Wearing a sequined top gets her noticed. If she and a few friends are decked out in glitter, they become a traffic hazard, blinding motorists with their brilliance. When a gaggle of them cover themselves in bling, they can be spotted from the space station. She shines brightest when she surrounds herself with sparkly friends.
The story on the back of Shine Brightly is so true. Studies have shown that we become similar to the 5 people we spend the most time with. So if you want to be dull, hang out with dull people. But if you want to shine, hang out with sparkly people. And when you do, your (and their) sparkliness will be amplified.
There are so many uses for this card. If you're planning a girls' weekend (or even a special night), you can use it as an invitation to the event or send it a few weeks before to get everyone psyched. You can even extend the good feelings you get when you're around your sparkly girls and send it afterwards.
You can do the same thing with your team for your company's conference. But you don't have to just send it to your team. Send it to your besties, pacing partners, sidelines and uplines (they like getting happy mail too).
This is a great card to send to potential recruits. Invite them to shine even brighter by joining your team. Use it as an invitation to an opportunity meeting or business chat and/or a thank you for coming. And did you know that you can recruit people into leadership? Send this card to someone who is a good candidate for an aspiring leadership, accountability or mastermind program.
Here's an outline for a 3-sentence note to write inside:
- Invitation to event or program
- Why she should participate
- What the next step is
This could look like:
The aspiring leaders' program is starting soon, and I'd love for you to be part of it. Your business will benefit from the training, and the rest of the group would benefit from your enthusiasm. Let's chat soon and get you started.
You could also send this as an acknowledgement to someone who is super sparkly. Let her know that she has inspired you and you love to be around her.
Celebrate every day,
When I sent cards to my team and customers, they typically just had an image (usually stars) and/or a simple message (thanks, congrats) on the front. There was no story on the back. So everything that I wanted to convey to the recipient had to come from me.
This was easy when I was saying thank you, happy anniversary, hello, happy birthday and congratulations. Basically all the things the Happy Mail Collection covers. But it got a little more complicated when I was writing a note to someone who had just done something brave or needed a push to do something brave. Sometimes there wasn't enough room to say everything I wanted to say.
One of the great things about My Heart Beats cards is that the sender doesn't have to come up with the whole message by herself. She can let the story on the back, the words on the front and the heartbeat speak. Her heart can be poured into the card without feeling weird or sappy or fake. She can nudge someone without feeling pushy.
For example, sometimes you see something in someone that she doesn't see in herself. You know she can do it. She just has to try. Maybe you don't have the relationship with her to say those words. But if you sent her a card and let the card say those words, you can simply write, "I'm here to help you with whatever you need."
And there are times when someone would benefit from being redirected. She's in a negative loop or headed down the wrong path or just needs a shove. The What if . . . Collection is perfect for this. This collection is all about introducing someone to the possibility of what if? They are conversation starters.
And it's okay if the story doesn't fit the situation exactly. Most of the stories are hyperboles so that they don't fit exactly. Use them as illustrations.
Celebrate every day,
My Heart Beat's first tagline was celebrate every day because the original cards were about every day moments. The little snippets of time that make up our memories. The things that are often overlooked as celebration-worthy.
I've found from my own experiences and from listening to others, that people save handwritten notes. They tuck them into drawers, tack them on bulletin boards, pile them on their desk and file them in boxes. Sometimes they seek them out when they are feeling nostalgic or sad, and sometimes they just stumble onto them.
People save emails and texts too, but the seeking and/or stumbling isn't as satisfying. Maybe the difference is that you can hold a card or that the handwriting is unique to the sender. Maybe a truer emotion comes through when the note is handwritten. I would much rather go through a shoebox than an inbox when I'm searching for hope. And I would certainly rather look at a bulletin board full of pretty cards and paper than one full of printed emails that look like office memos.
Social media messages and posts are automatically saved. When you write on someone's profile, you can make it so that the whole world can see it. Woo hoo! I knew you could do it. I'm so proud of you. Even if you claim not to like public recognition, you probably still appreciate a social media shout-out. No one can see you blush when you read it. But have you ever scrolled through your profile looking for a post from three months ago? Three years ago? Ugh, it takes so long that most of its power is gone by the time you get to it. When you sift through a shoebox of love, the whole journey is a delight.
Almost all forms of written communication are more efficient than a handwritten note. But I believe that the handwritten note is the most effective way to connect, encourage and celebrate. There is an unexplainable magic about it.
So My Heart Beats new tagline is
connect. encourage. celebrate.
But we still celebrate every day.
Celebrate every day,
Note writing is like going to the gym. At first it might be uncomfortable and you have to force yourself to do it. It takes a while to see results, but you feel better about yourself pretty quickly. You’re more likely to do it if you have everything ready to go; and the more consistent you are, the easier it is. The big difference is that going to the gym stinks and note writing is fun.
If note writing is a new activity, be intentional about it until it becomes a habit. It will probably take several months for it to fit into the rhythm of your business, and it may take a little longer for you to see a payoff. I had a note writing schedule that worked well for me.
I wrote thank you notes to hostesses and party guests when I placed their orders or the day after the party. Every guest got a thank you note whether or not she purchased (assuming I had her mailing address). This was the first business activity of the day, and I found it helped set the tone for the rest of the day.
I wrote the majority of notes to my team at the beginning of each month. I'd write a monthly team newsletter and email it to everyone on the team. Anyone who was recognized in the newsletter also got a handwritten note from me. I’d print out the newsletter and check off the names as I wrote the notes. Recognition would include top sales and recruits, anniversaries, incentive earners, etc. One note per person -- not one note per mention. I wasn't a maniac.
I’d also block out a little bit of time at the end of coaching call days to write notes to anyone who needed some encouragement or had something to celebrate.
Other than those two times, I worked my note writing into the nooks and crannies of my day. I kept a large supply of note cards and always carried a pack in my purse or business bag. When I was a taxi driver for my daughters, I’d write while they were at a lesson or the orthodontist. Sometimes I’d take the girls to the playground and write them there. I even booked a few parties that way because it became a conversation starter (probably because someone writing a note was such an odd sight). I’d also write a bunch on long car or plane rides even when I was the driver. Not really. I'm rarely the driver.
1. Schedule time in your work day/week/month to write notes.
2. Have a list of reasons to send notes (recognition, thanks, celebration, etc.).
3. Make a list of people who fall into your note-writing reasons.
4. Carry note cards with you to write during the nooks and crannies of your life.
5. Have an outline for your notes.
Part of this post is an excerpt from The Note Book which you can download for free.
Celebrate every day,