The Big Secret

So I have this problem with a few people in my life. (You don’t know them, and anyway, that’s beside the point.) I wrote about it in the book but I’ll reiterate it here, because it’s worth it.

Reliability: It’s the big secret.

I’ve made the joke before that, before looking for people to work with, I check their Twitter account. If they tweet a lot, there’s no chance I’m working with them (Chris doesn’t sleep, so he’s obviously the exception).

Seriously though, there seems to be a direct correlation between amount of time spent on social media and ability to get work done. Think about it.

But I digress.

Reliability, the ability to answer email quickly, to answer questions, comments, or criticism in a timely way, to deliver projects on time, is a huge factor for how seriously people will treat you.

Imagine you have a person you’re working with, that you’re paying, but who won’t return your messages. In fact, you probably don’t have to imagine– it’s likely you really do have someone like this.

Maybe they’re creative, so you tolerate it. Or maybe you can’t find anyone else, or you’re lazy. Come on, you can admit it. ๐Ÿ™‚

For this reason, because everyone in social media seems to be WAY too forgetful, reliability is the one separator. And it’s the easiest thing to fix– if you get a system. So either do that, or learn to apologize– preferably, do both.

Which do you need to work on?






9 responses to “The Big Secret”

  1. Shira Avatar

    I have to disagree. I tweet a LOT, but I answer emails extremely quickly. In fact, one of my team mates during my MBA (last year) would make fun of my computer addiction and would time my email response – he emailed me when I’m online my response was less than a minute.


  2. abby Avatar

    Consider this the text version of waving pom poms and cheering YESSSS! By its very nature, reliability does not enable or encourage ADD, OCD or similar limiting behaviors. If we commit to deliver, we deliver. And we deal with our issues on our own time. End of story.

  3. Ken Avatar

    While I can see your point, I also have to disagree. I fulfill all of my commitments at work and then some. I (while I certainly don’t tweet as much as Mr. Brogan and it certainly is not my job… yet) also am on Twitter and Facebook, but I do so when I am on down time and waiting for a meeting. I also find time to Tweet before the family gets up or after they go to bed or while they are staring at the TV watching Wizards of Waverly Place for the 50th time.

  4. CT Moore Avatar

    It’s like they say: “social networking is one letter away from ‘not working’.”

    But to run with @Shira said, I also disagree, but for different reasons. I find that if you answer emails shortly after they come in, you spend all day writing emails. I usually get stuff done because I turn off the channels, whether their social or personal/private.

    I think if something’s super important, you should pick up the phone. Otherwise, it can wait a few hours or a day or two. And if you don’t have my number, then you’re probably not working on something all that important with me.

  5. Tracy Lee Carroll Avatar

    I think everyone has the cadence and either it works for them or it doesn’t. I do understand your frustration with not getting the answers you need in a timely fashion. We live in an age where we have come to expect instant gratification in every corner of our lives. This is not reasonable nor is it even possible and really not truly desirable. (Think about waiting for Christmas!)

    I tend to address important issues as quickly as I can. Sometimes I am only a second behind in response (like when you commented on my last comment on your blog) and other times, I get around to it when I can. There are two main factors that go into that — Do I have the ability to respond immediately? And where is that on *my* priority listing? What is a top priority for you, may not be so for me. I try very hard to remember that when addressing my own expectation when waiting for someone else.

    But I digress. I do tweet an awful lot..when I can. And then there are times when I don’t tweet at all, but that isn’t as noticeable. Using Twitter as a tool to achieve other things, both professionally and person is just that — a tool and we all use our tools differently. I don’t necessarily agree that there is a solid correlation. I do think that a general statement can be made, but I can point to many instances that break that rule. (Aside from Chris. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I really do like your article and happened to read it at a time where I had just figured that out on my own due to some recent changes in my life that I needed to address. I think you are spot on in your observations there.

    As far as this posting goes, I think you are correct that reliability is the secret, but I don’t think you can make any excuses as to what keeps people from being reliable. If they are going to be distracted, they will be by whatever is in front of them. Is Twitter a good gauge of that? Maybe, but I can’t say that it is definitive.

  6. Leslie Poston Avatar

    Having just hired help with some of the more back-end business-y tasks that distract me from deadlines (In my case, not tweeting. If I’m tweeting it means I’m sitting down focused and working on projects, but everyone has a different work flow.), I can say this post is VERY timely.

  7. Dave LaMorte Avatar

    I’ve learned to apologize and I try to anticipate what might be asked of me.

  8. Matt Avatar

    It’s funny, I was in the library looking for a good book on time management when I came across Chris’ Tweet about you new design which led me to your blog! Nice design by the way ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyways, I’ve come to the exact same conclusion as you, someone’s activity in Social Media is inversely proportional to that person’s reliability. In my experience, being active on Social Media website is highly time consuming and keep me way too busy for no good reason. I’ve been spending an average of 4 hours a day on Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, emails, LinkedIn) which is probably not that much compared to others, but now I’m trying to figure out how to get the best of Social Media while cutting the time required by 2.

    I’ve just written a post in which I tried to find ways to get the best of SM while limiting my time spent online. I decided I would fix clear goals for myself about what I want to accomplish with Social Media and based on these objectives, I’ll come up with a strategy. What tools I want to use and how I want to use them. Finally, I need to control myself to make sure I don’t go overboard. I’ve found 3 ways to limit my time:
    1. Limit based on the time I spend daily on Social Media. That’s a no brainer, just set an amount of time and keep to it.
    2. Limit based on the websites I use. Mainly cutting all the crap I think is not necessary/useful. The problem is that you can miss good content by eliminating sources of content.
    3. Limit based on where I am. My favourite, I give myself the permission to use Social Media based on where I am. For instance, bus, fitness centre, lining up, those are all good places to use Social Media with affecting my life.
    In reality I’ll probably use a mix of those 3. Trying to use Facebook less, giving myself a maximum amount of time per day while trying to maximize my use of Social Media in situation where it doesn’t affect others.

    Do you guys try to “regulate” your Social Life? How much time do you spend on Social Media a day? Any tips to be effective yet have a real life?

  9. Chel Avatar

    I tend to want to agree with you. Really. Mainly because I’ve seen people do this, but I’ve also seen people like @cspenn who actually does tweet while working, he doesn’t tweet a lot but he tweets while he’s doing mundane things.

    I tweet in between breaks of projects to break up my day. For me the weird part is having the majority of my clients on Twitter. I’m working on anywhere from 3-6 projects a day. I’m not finishing them all right away. Some are big, some are small. I have to choose to focus on stuff that has deadlines vs. those that don’t. Finding that balance has been difficult.

    I do wonder sometimes if a client is bothered by my tweeting when I’m on a deadline, but I *need* those breaks, otherwise I’d go insane. It’s always been my work flow to work for a couple hours take a 5-10 minute break and then go back to it.

    I can go back to 8 hour stretches if needed but don’t enjoy it and am drained at the end. Isn’t one of the freedoms of freelancing making your own schedule to a point?

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