When I work with a small group of business professionals in my Certified Networker® program one of the first things we do is set some “Agreements” with each other. The setting of Agreements creates a collaborative and inclusive learning environment, a certain level of comfort so we are able to have ideas flow and people feel safe to share. This creates a great environment where the business professionals can test out marketing language and really grow. Even though we are working on business, we are working on our personal connection to our business and we need to know that we are in a place where we can experiment, test things out, and not be perfect.
The exercise of creating agreements in the Certified Networker® program spells out mutually agreed upon guidelines for behavior. That’s what agreements are about. No matter where we are – when we make an agreement, we are creating standards for our behavior.
In Certified Networker®, I start by asking, “What are some agreements we can make on how to act and interact that would make this a more productive, beneficial, and enjoyable environment? What creates a great learning environment for you?” It’s amazing what the most common agreements are:
- Be on time.
- Be mindful of technology (no cell phones beeping, buzzing, or playing music. No email, texting, or surfing the net.)
- Be present.
- Be prepared. Do your work.
- Positive and constructive feedback. (We have a process for feedback.)
These are our terms of engagement, if you will. How we plan on participating.
As individuals, we have agreements with ourselves. We decide on our own personal standards, terms of engagement, and how we’ll participate – in business and life.
Most people have standards around time. Some live by the standard that if you’re early, you’re on time, and if you’re on time, you’re late. “When I tell someone I’ll be there, I’ll be there.” Others live by the standard that time is flexible. “There’s always wiggle room in a start time, and they’re just lucky that I showed up and chose to be with them this time.”
When I join a networking group, I agree to making a commitment to be there, participate, and contribute in a meaningful way.
What are the agreements that you have?
An agreement in business could be that you follow up within 24 hours, or make 5 sales calls every day, or both!
Take a moment to think about your commitments. Take out a journal or notebook and write them down. Over the next few days, think about your agreements. See if you notice some personal agreements you have with yourself.
One of mine is that if I’m going to be driving my Lexus IS 250C with the convertible top down, then I should be smiling, or at least have a pleasant look on my face! I should be happy and enjoying it!
Now, here’s my next question: Where are you breaking agreements?
Think about what you set out to do on Monday. Did you say to yourself, this week I’m going to accomplish ____? What happens when you don’t accomplish it? What happens if you’re late to a meeting? What happens if you said you would exercise three times this week and you didn’t even exercise once???
When we break agreements there are consequences!
First, there are consequences for you. It hurts your confidence. It puts a dent in your own self-esteem. If you don’t honor yourself, if you don’t respect yourself to hold an agreement with yourself, you are damaging your own self-image.
Second, there are consequences for the people around you. If I’m showing up late, my clients feel less important, and that spirals down to a damaged business image and client satisfaction.
The overall consequence of breaking agreements is the damage to your relationships. Relationships with your clients, your family, your friends, your business network, and – I’d say most importantly – with yourself.
Pay attention. Notice what your agreements are to yourself and adjust the day accordingly. Knowing what your agreements are, how your day looks, and being able to manage it all of it can go a long way to feeling really good about yourself and great with what you accomplished!
How do you declare what your agreements are? How are you communicating your agreements?
What’s an agreement you’d like your clients to make?
A client in the remodeling industry wanted to hear back on proposals within two weeks to help her with scheduling. So she would have a conversation with her clients, “will you be able to get back to me within two weeks?” Then she would repeat back to the client, “what I’m hearing you say is that you can decide within two weeks and let me know.” This set my client up for success. She was able to have her clients agree to get back to her in a timely manner so she could be on top of her scheduling and in turn provide her clients with better and timelier service. If her clients did not get back to her within the two weeks, because they had the agreement, it was easy for her to follow up and say, “it’s been two weeks, what’s your decision?”
What agreements do you want in your life? What’s the one thing that you will agree to – no matter what?