I'm betting I'm not the only one that gets irked by certain business practices of others. Truth be told, sometimes if we look at ourselves we probably exhibit some of these practices as well. I've been told by a few people that maybe I'm too thin skinned to be in business because it's just how people do business. The day being rude, crude, and uncaring about others is the only way to do business is the day I check out completely and start... I don't know what. lol

I've been thinking about this a bit and decided it's time to write these things out. I stopped at 10 because after that it starts getting depressing and pedantic; we wouldn't want to be pedantic now, would we? So here goes:

1. If you asked someone to contact you and they did, at least respond to them. This past year I've had a few people ask me to send them a proposal, or to contact them around a certain time to talk about doing a project together. Almost none of those people responded back when I did so. If you think your time is valuable, so is my time.

2. If you're really not interested in something don't lead people on. I've told people I'm not interested in something "right now" but might be in a few months when, even if I might be interested, I know I'm not going to do it. That just leads them on and irritates me when they call back. I've started telling people up front that I probably won't do something and that they can take me off their list.

3. If someone tells you to stop contacting them, do it. Unfortunately, some people don't listen when you tell them you'll never be interested. Think about it; if I give a definite "no" and you continue calling me, how liable am I to use your services if I need them if you've irritated me? Ain't happening.

4. Set your rates, within reason, and stick to them, only offering discounts when they make sense. I had this ongoing conversation with a friend of mine this year and eventually had to take a look at some of the things I do. I realize that I don't necessarily discount, but that I give different rates to different people based on who they might be or how confident I feel in doing the project they ask for. It leaves me feeling frustrated most of the time because I feel like I've under-charged. By the end of the year, I've learned to only discount when I've gotten everything I wanted, so that it's more my "gift" than my obligation.

5. Honor your hosts with proper decorum. One of my friends showed up at an event that was a coming out party for a periodical wearing shorts and a sweaty t-shirt while everyone else was dressed up. He acknowledged the error, realizing he'd misinterpreted the importance of the event and dressed way better at the next one. Someone else I know got to a networking event, started drinking immediately, and within 30 minutes was the life of the party, only the kind that everyone wishes had stayed home. How comfortable do you think people will be in trusting you to work with them after an exhibition like that?

6. Every encounter shouldn't be used as an opportunity to sell. True, all of us in business are hoping to impress others so that when they need services or products we can supply that they'll think of us. However, if I just met you and you're giving me your card within 3 minutes and I didn't ask for it, guess where it's going when I get home? Most networking events are for people to get comfortable wit others and during that comfort conversation invariably the question comes up as to what you do. Wait for that moment; you'll get more business that way.

7. Don't promise something you know you don't intend to do. This year at a networking event I met someone I actually already knew (who should know me since we've seen each other at least 10 times over the years, but I digress) who said that if I sent him a copy of my book and he liked it that he'd have me on his TV show to talk about it. Even as he was saying it I knew it wasn't going to come to fruition, based on track record, but I sent him a copy anyway. I've never heard from him again, and I fully expect that the next time I see him in person he won't remember that we've never met. Oh well...

8. Plan at least parts of your day so you can get to those things you feel are most important. I'm a part time planner in that I might average once a week over the course of a year, but usually get most of it done in a one month period. I complete immediate projects but don't always get to those long, complicated projects that I want to complete because I forget about them sometimes. Nothing says you can't alter your schedule here and there but you should at least know what's out there that you'd like to give some time to.

9. Your business and your career should be about you. Are you happy doing what you do? Are you focused on one thing or do you have multiple things that you like to do? Are you happy with the money you make? Realize that if the Mayans aren't correct and we actually make it through 2012 that you might have a long life ahead of you. Why not be as happy and as content as you possibly can while making a living? Never feel like you're a slave to your job or career or even certain clients; always explore other options that can make you happy.

10. Also remember that it's not all about you. Don't step on others to succeed. Sometimes go to an event for someone else's benefit even if you don't want to. Help others to succeed because it always helps you as well. Even sole proprietors like myself can't do it all alone, and the more you help others, the more you help yourself.