As any good business person will tell you, there is no true preparation for what will happen to communications in real business scenarios.
In the same way communicators do, you make your bones on the job, and often the one way to raise above an issue is by sticking your neck out and not being afraid to confront some harsh realities.
There's plenty to be terrified of in business these days -- botched or inexisting company customer service, even as companies do more in more channels and face potential customer issues or crisis.
Dwindling contacts and allies in the media that require some creative tap dancing and on the spot background research when you should have been engaged in relationship development with free lancer journalists and bloggers.
And the old standby, not enough sales or profit.
For this special Halloween edition of Conversation Agent, we will take a look at the things that scare business people the most.
Monster in the closet: the truth
Why this puts business people on edge
Many are struggling with this one because they are often head down on day-to-day work and don't see the big picture until something bad needs to be fixed -- a crisis, or a layoff at your supplier, a product recall, consolidation, hostile takeover, service interruption to customers, or a known operational problem that needs fixing.
Today, you may learn about it at the same time or a little after customers or the media find out. In other cases, a report may have been filed, and the company hasn't done what needed to be done to fix the issue, which makes it snowball.
Trick or trade
It can be tricky, however, the truth needs confronting. My first question in cases like this one is usually "is it true?" Many business people don't ask -- are they afraid they'll need to take responsibility for what comes next?
Which is why being in the loop on everything that could impact service or product delivery closely is a really good use of time.
Developing relationships with the people on the front line, including customers, goes a long way to mitigate this fear and keep you on trade.
Monster under the bed: the unknown
Why it scares business people
Thanks to technology, many businesses have now greatly expanded their ability to deliver produts and services. They have become more efficient in many areas. However, in some cases, this means relying on extremely complex (and hidden) supply chains.
Working in an especially symbiotic relationship with other businesses in social networks, instead of driving a strategic agenda that connects directly with customers and other stakeholders on the business own digital presence is scary.
It could lead to uncharted territory when those services change their rules, as they've done on multiple occasions and will continue to do.
Worse yet, driving a conversation agenda on other channels might not play well with media's ambiguous relationship with its public and readers.
Trick or trade
Maintaining good relations with the press, building up interest and awareness of the business and its products and services, controlling the amount of information the public receives, earning media, and so on are all part of the job description in every business.
There are many ways to skin a cat, pardon the pun. Being well versed in the environment that surrounds your business, immersing yourself in trends, and being adept at researching information and displaying data are all good starting actions.
Listening to customers and bringing their concerns and questions to the business table is a game changing proposition.
Existential monster: you become closely tied with your company. What happens if it goes away?
Why this is scary
Because many business people closely identify themselves with their job, they have a hard time letting go of that identify in favor of a more fluid and differentiated approach. Incorporating some experimenting on separating the work you do from any specific organization or business is healthy.
With new media, publishing, data and analytics all being available and affordable with some investment of time, balancing a specific job with being known for a certain type of work is within reach.
The difficulty with your job and life being so closely linked is also that one becomes identified with the other. And in some cases, a temporary failure in business may mean a permanent stain on your sense of self. A recent example of this realization by Buyology startup CEO Tara Hunt.
Trick or trade
Business people need to become better at stretching beyond their comfort zone, networking inside and outside their organization, collaborating with their peers and being enterprising in creating what's next for themselves and for their ecosystem.
Specifically, learning how to build an audience or a tribe should be part of every business person's toolkit.
What scares you as a business person? How do you get over it or work to overcome it? Do you see the upside of your predicament? Can the question be reversed and help you open up a new path?