Business is a contact sport. And every contact counts, as does the way you treat them. After all, your customers are your competition’s potential customers. And those you’ve yet to reach, well, their business is only one good play away. The competitor who wins their business will most likely do so by utilizing whatever means possible to reach them first and best. Make no mistake about it, whether your competition considers you a threat or not, they want you to be a casualty. Business is the toughest of sports! Read more
It is more impossible than ever to separate our business lives from our social ones. Anywhere you go, you can look around and observe people checking email on their smartphones or tablets, most of which are connected to both their personal and professional accounts. We never stop working, no matter what time of day it is. Read more
We all want to put our best foot forward. So much so that sometimes we put more of an emphasis on creating an image of ourselves than being ourselves. We all want to be perceived as intelligent, invincible, and insightful, especially to those whom we’ve just met or would like to meet. This is of the utmost importance as an entrepreneur trying to build a brand. Read more
Despite the commoditization of so much in our lives, relationships shouldn’t be categorized in such a way. People want to be recognized, and uniquely so. The prevalence of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, has enabled us to express ourselves online like never before. Isn’t it great that people are so willing to share more personal information about themselves? They provide us with a means to learn more about them as a result. More than ever before we’re able to gain knowledge about a person, and as such obtain a better baseline of who they really are. But having their information is one thing, what we do with it is another.
Filling that gap between public (or pseudo public) information and the information we gather in person separates an acquaintance from something more meaningful. Filling that gap also distinguishes us from others, especially in contrast to our competition where the relationships are in their early stages from a professional perspective. After all, that same competition has access to the same information and therein lays your opportunity for a more meaningful and closer relationship. Toward this end, let me share three insights with you that are sure to help:
- Knowing the data is vastly different from knowing how to use the data.
As I already pointed out, relationships will never progress solely based upon knowing information people post or share about themselves on social media sites. Whether or not someone likes to cook or whether they have traveled to a certain locale may be a starting point to a conversation, but it’s the connection two people make when exchanging information that drives toward a stronger connection. Consider how inspiring, motivating and encouraging it can be to read a great autobiography. You’ve gained information and insight the author chose to share, but do they feel connected to you as a reader? Most certainly not. Even when a conversation is dominated by one person sharing information with the other, when done in-person, both parties are more in tune with what is being shared and how it is being received.
- The data is most beneficial when it’s used to create a unique connection.
Perceive the user-provided data as a starting point, not an end point. Fundamentally, what people share expresses their interests and passions. To form a mutual connection, there must be more than knowledge of their interest. Asking someone to elaborate on an experience or interest can be a great ice-breaker to a new acquaintance, but when you have something to add or share to the exchange, it is no longer only about them. It becomes a mutually beneficial exchange.
- Unique connections are more likely to occur when you let others expound on what you know about them.
Having an interest in others such that you investigated their posts has to go beyond that initial “share” in order to form a lasting connection. How? It’s simple! Get them to talk about themselves pertinent to something you already know about them. For example, it’s one thing to know that someone likes international traveling. You may like it too, even if you’ve yet to experience it. Regardless, express your interest in their interest and ask them where they’ve been, what they enjoyed about it, if they would recommend going there, and if so, what to see and do. It helps them “open up,” and more precisely it causes them to warm up to you. When people open up to others, the path to greater relationship value exists.
Use technology and the streams of information about people as a springboard, not a hammock. Don’t be lazy in your effort to really get to know others. Take the initiative to you share more than a mutual interest. Consider what you have to offer, either personally or professionally. Your sphere of resources and influence, in other words your “network,” can set you apart from all the others vying for attention.
Social media is mostly public media. Even the data you collect personally is still only data until you use it in a meaningful way. To do so, be genuine: Genuinely interested in what you can provide to others. Genuinely concerned that the relationship is mutually beneficial. Genuinely true to who you are as well. Data may be a commodity, but a person shouldn’t be.
A killer idea for a new product or service is a great place to start a new entrepreneurial venture. But it takes more than a great idea to sustain success. Relationships—with customers, prospects, and even acquaintances—can be the “make it or break it” difference. Unfortunately, the era of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter has not equipped budding professionals particularly well, in that regard. Read more
Technology has made almost every activity in our daily lives easier and faster. This enables us to accomplish so much more than previous generations—not only more quickly, but in some cases, seemingly effortlessly. It has given us, for example, the means to produce results in less time, helping to free up more time for other things in our daily lives. Our productivity is boosted dramatically.
Take the microwave oven. Most of us enjoy the convenience of a hot meal virtually immediately. Having said that, though, I’m sure none of us would wish to have a microwaved TV dinner every night, compared to the more-likely healthier and pleasurable “home cooked” meal that takes more effort and time, and yes, even care to prepare. The distinction, therefore, is that investment in time is proportionate to the enjoyment of the end result. There is no way around it.
The dictionary defines a shortcut as “a method or means of doing something more directly and quickly than and often not so thoroughly as by ordinary procedure” (emphasis added). It is that word “thoroughly” that ought to stand out to you when it comes to your approach to your relationships where the intent and need is to create, develop, and sustain meaningful relationships that produce effective and valuable results over long periods of time, and with it further strengthening your reputation across your various networks. When it comes to building deep and enduring relationships, and as Tina Turner sings in Proud Mary, those just can’t be achieved “nice and easy.”
Some of the synonyms for shortcut are perhaps even more blunt: bypass, dodge, get around, and sidestep—just to name a few. None of these can be used to describe the process of building purposeful relationships. Cooking food quickly and having immediate information results are fine for those types of needs, but the same cannot be applied by the use of technology toward relationship development and management.
Technology can certainly help you learn about a person in the beginnings of what could become a real relationship. However, with all of its power and speed, technology is not a substitute for what it takes to produce satisfying, and hopefully, repeatable results. You don’t even need technology for that. What do you need? You need to resist the urge to confuse immediate gratification without true investment and instead place value on constructing relationships that last.
The double-edged sword of technology gives immediate self-gratification by helping forge emotional connections, but maintaining them requires discipline and ongoing effort. The pursuit of healthy and rewarding relationships exists in proportion to the amount of time, intensity, trust and reciprocity that you have poured into them.
In other words, the rewards are worth the investment. To that end, we must consistently re-evaluate why we are building relationships and whether the desired outcomes are worth the effort required to attain them.
Shortcuts lead to shallow relationships and offer little depth from which to draw upon in the future. To achieve consistent success from your relationships, don’t look for shortcuts. Instead make “smartcuts,” by applying those thoughtful efforts and actions that lead to real, enduring, and reliable relationships. In other words, it’s those “smart” efforts vs. expeditious ones will result in what I like to call the social capital of relationship value.
You may rely on technology and social media to provide immediate information on someone, but if that’s as far as you go, you’ll never know how that relationship could have progressed or what opportunities it might have afforded. This “macro” view leads you to believe that through technology-enabled information shortcuts, relationship results will be achieved. Unfortunately, that is at odds with the investment of effort and “relationship drill down” built over time required to produce solid networks—personal and professional.
Where social media blasts and email newsletters are an effective means of communicating a message to an audience, they don’t do much in the way of building a lasting connection. The opposite to this “macro” approach could be as simple as sending a text message at a crucial time, say the anniversary of a loved one’s passing.
As it applies to relationships, “smartcuts” may be calendar reminders and push notifications to follow up with someone after you get together or talk on the phone. Those “micro” efforts have lasting effects on how others perceive you and in turn how they perceive your value of them. The irony of making smartcuts is that they not only produce big results, they can lead to a shortcut on your path toward achieving your personal goals and ultimately your overall success.
Good bedside manner can reassure and comfort a patient even when facing a difficult diagnosis, while poor bedside manner can leave a patient feeling dissatisfied or anxious, from a visit as innocuous as a routine checkup. Big difference. But how does bedside manner apply to business in general? Two words: customer service. Read more