Why just communicate when you can connect?
In an age of digital communication, who do you actually connect with?
Take a moment to think about who you communicate with every day. Colleagues, managers, clients, customers, suppliers, people on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, emails and blogs – so many you can hardly remember them all. Then think again about who you actually connect with.
Chances are, you’ll remember a meeting with a person, a telephone call, or comments on your blog, even clicking ‘Like’ on a social media post. You’ve connected. So what’s the difference?
Communication is delivery-based
Communication is a message that’s beamed out to a broad intended audience, relaying information. Communication is relatively easy as there is so much media to deliver the message. However, the audience may or may not even listen to or follow the message, agree or disagree with it – and you’ll never know. It doesn’t develop relationships or strengthen cooperation on its own.
Connection is far more personal
Connection involves actively responding to the message, creating an association and strengthening a relationship. Connection is harder than communication as it requires investing a piece of yourself and risking rejection, by whatever medium you use to do it. Getting a response to your message is the hardest part of initiating connection.
By 2020, 50 billion things will be connected to The Internet of Things – the ‘connected society’. We need to be able to succeed in the ‘connected world’, not the ‘communicative world’. To be connected, businesses need to tap into a higher level emotionally, to be loved, even. So how can we do this?
Remember your corner shop
Strange as it may sound, this is a model of connectedness to take beyond 2020. You probably know the family who run the local shop, and they know you. It usually stocks what you need and when you pop in you get a smile and a friendly chat, leaving the shop with a warm, fuzzy feeling of human connectedness. And you’ll be back in tomorrow to buy your newspaper and milk again. Wouldn’t it be great if you could transfer this goodwill model into all your business dealings?
Make human contact
Nothing can really beat face-to-face contact for making connections, so meet up if you can. Smiling and open body language in meetings are the quickest way to build rapport. In the connected global marketplace, though, this is often not possible. Skype, conference calls, or even simple phone calls, can help you to connect with your clients, other than just digitally.
Woo your clients
Connecting with clients – your business’s lifeblood – is a lot like dating. You want them to like you, make a personal connection and buy into your product. And the process is the same, with the potential for a client to stay with you for longer than the first date:
Get to know your clients on a personal level by asking questions and then listening. Listening to answers lets you in on lots of insider secrets – what your clients love, what irritates them and what they need but don’t get (gaps in the market?)
Put yourself in your client’s shoes – how would you feel if you were bombarded with generic email communication? Or if your favourite product was out of stock?
- Compliment them
Do they have stylish offices or a great website? Say so – everyone loves a compliment.
- Follow up
A brief email, thanking your clients for their time and for a good meeting goes a long way towards building rapport and trust.
Tailor your future communications
A personal email, specifically about something your client is interested in, goes much further in building connection in the early stages than just a generic email newsletter (although established clients may well enjoy your newsletters too).
Keep clients in the loop
Once you’ve established a connection, keep in touch about future plans or products. If you have the resources to do this on a personal level, such as the occasional phone call or meeting up at conferences for coffee, do just that. Otherwise a short email with key messages will suffice.
Go into partnership
The next logical step in connection is partnership, and this is becoming increasingly a feature of 21st-century growing businesses, particularly some hypergrowth companies that view collaboration as an intrinsic part of their business model. By teaming up with other businesses, you can tap into each other’s expertise, clients and new audiences for what you offer.
In the 21st-century global marketplace, your business’s future depends on your ability to connect with others rather than just communicate with them. Once you’ve become a master of connection, you’ll find a steady stream of clients, both new and old, follows naturally – all willing and able to do business with you.
If you would like to know how Love Letters can help you connect with your clients through content marketing, then please get in touch.
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