We’ve all been there. You’re walking away from the job interview, the new business presentation or that big important meeting and you know it’s just not going to happen. Everything felt wrong. There was no energy in the room, faces were blank, the extended pauses were awkward. In short you failed. Harsh, I know, but true.
I’ll admit it. I’m a competitive person, and I do not like to lose. Especially when I know I put in the time, did the work, and had great ideas. To me, the only thing worse than losing once is losing twice. The best way to avoid that is to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it for the next time. After much thought, and maybe a little dark chocolate, I offer these tips for turning a #FAIL into a #WIN:
- TAKE A CHANCE. Ask yourself…is the opportunity salvageable? Is there a way to re-introduce some of whatever it was that wasn’t displayed during that meeting? Don’t be afraid to make the call, send the email or offer up another cup of coffee for the chance to renew the potential relationship. Send along work samples with a note that says, “During our meeting, I neglected to mention how great we are at xx” or “I wanted to share this recommendation from my last employer.” If the opportunity still exists, this just might be the way to get back in the door and seal that deal. If anything, they will remember your moxie, which might lead to an engagement, job or recommendation down the line. If not, ask for feedback about why the meeting didn’t go your way. Some will decline to provide it, but the ones who don’t will give you essential information by which you can regroup and realign.
- TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Despite the number of times you’ve heard “It’s not personal, it’s business,” let’s be honest. It’s always personal. Chemistry is such a big part of what goes into making the decision to work with or hire someone. And regardless of your charm, wit and sensational smile, sometimes the juju just isn’t there. And that’s OK. Consider this: if you were offered the job and then had to work with people you don’t connect with, how miserable would THAT be? I’ve had this experience, and it’s counterproductive at best. Realize that you probably didn’t like them very much, anyway. So really, it’s not you, it’s them. Feel better? Good.
- TAKE A GOOD LOOK. Take this opportunity to “embrace the disgrace,” dig in a little deeper and figure out what went wrong. Perform an honest review of what went into the meeting or presentation and define the areas where the mark was missed. Break it down. Go back to the assignment or job description and compare it to what you brought to the table. What could we have done differently or better? Were the ideas and strategies in line with what the prospective client laid out as their goals? Did the work examples I provided showcase the qualities they said they look for in their employees? A very smart, former boss and forever role model of mine used to say, “We don’t want to be washing the windows when the client wants us to be sweeping the floors.” Which is to say, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Use this as a yard stick by which to evaluate your work to make sure you’re on track.
- TAKE IT UP A NOTCH. Here comes your opportunity to get creative and improve your mood, without the chocolate. In the PR business, it’s all about the impressions that we create…literally and figuratively. Show the prospective client that you understand this. Be memorable. Are they looking for special event support? Stage your presentation as a special event: confirm the pitch appointment with a hand-delivered invitation and set up the room with décor to match the assignment. Is the prospective client a new restaurant? Organize your presentation by “courses” and serve up your ideas on literal silver platters. Job interviews can also be amped up with these little touches. One time, a job candidate showed up to a mid-afternoon interview with fresh pastries, complete with napkins, utensils and plates. Not only were we delighted about the sweets, but it was a clever way to demonstrate her creativity and attention to detail. And it was definitely memorable! These creative accents will always make someone smile and will go a long way toward setting the stage for a happy outcome.