Last week, I heard the bark of a distressed dog from my office window.
It sure sounded close, and I noticed that one of my cats was perched in the window with her tail hairs fully extended.
When I peered out the window here was this medium-sized dog inside my yard, barking in a panic looking as if he wanted to get into my next-door neighbor's yard.
Now I don't know everything about my neighbors, but I didn't remember seeing this dog before.
It began to run back and forth along our fence frantically barking.
I went outside and tried to get its attention, but soon realized that the dog was rather old and wasn't able to hear or possibly see me.
There was only one area of my yard where this feeble dog could have entered, but I knew for a fact, that they had a HUGE Rottweiler, and this wasn't their dog.
So, at the behest of my own cats who for the first time ever weren't trying to squeeze outside behind me, I put out a bowl of water and a little bit of dry cat food, and waited for my husband to come home from work.
I made several calls to animal lover neighbors to see if they knew whose dog it was, but to no avail.
The dog did eventually drink some water and calm down, and we were able to later find out it belonged to a neighbor three houses up, but I still felt awful that this poor, confused dog was so lost.
It made me think about several of my clients, and past clients who have been in a panic since the downturn of the economy.
They do a lot of pacing, and don't know to look beyond old habits to try and weather the storm.
Like the dog, they got lost in the struggle, took an unexpected turn and are uncertain how to move forward.
My business is doing pretty well, thankfully, but that's not to say that I haven't had to tighten my belt a little bit.
I may not do so many out-of-office lunches; I've cut back on new clothing and the latest technology gadgets; and instead, I'm working on building stronger relationships with clients and prospects.
Lately, many of my referrals to prospects have come from my networking buddies, not my current or past clients, which is usually the case.
Several of them have not been in my area of expertise, but with the relationships I've built with other VAs over the years, and through my VA coaching programs, I've been pleased to refer these prospects to VAs with the exact expertise for their needs.
I think this has really been one of the main reasons my business continues to grow.
I don't panic if business is a little slow, and I definitely don't take on business for which I can't honestly say I'm the EXPERT.
It's just not worth it.
Not only could I disappoint the client, but it would reflect badly on my industry, too.
Whether or not we want to believe it, there's a lot of good business out there.
We have to get more creative about how we market ourselves to a prospect that better fits our talents and passions; we have to be willing to be good listeners and do what's best for the prospect and their needs; and we need to try not to panic when we seem to have gone a little astray.
I encourage you to take this time to build good relationships with current clients, networking friends, peers and colleagues.
You never know where the next big opportunity may be lurking, and you definitely don't want to be lost in someone else's yard, unable to hear or see your way back.