Engage People at a Social Site, at an Event, on the Telephone
It’s true of every big and small business that not one can succeed alone. We all need the help of the community who supports us to keep growing. Yet as I work with corporations who hire me and people ask for my help, I find the greatest commonality is that we seem to work on the premise that we have to do everything ourselves.
We’re better at surveying, studying, measuring, questioning, observing, and even psychoanalyzing the people who build, buy, sell, use, and tell others about our products and services than we are at letting them participate as much as they might in helping us thrive. But we’re not very good at connecting with natural advocates when they step up and let us know they’re interested in us.
Here are 5 ways to find and connect with people who grow your business online and off.
- Be a learner, not a hunter. Attracting the people who’ll help starts with a mindset that invites people to share. At your next networking event, instead of looking for leads or hot contacts, look for people who can teach you about the people in the room. Ask, “What do the people in this group have in common? What sort of opportunity does this event offer you?” Look for a mentor not a sales lead and you might find someone who not only introduces you, but also wants to know more about what you do.
- Talk to everyone about your quest. Don’t wait until you’re ready to release the “big deal” before you let folks know about it. Invite people who share similar goals to hear a little about where you’re going. People are naturally generous and love to share in a dream. They’ll immediately start connecting your quest to what they’re doing and to people doing similar things. You might find a killer idea, an unconsidered channel of distribution, or a whole network of future customers from conversations like that.
- Ask for their experience. Experience is hard won and valued by those who’ve earned it. It’s hard to top the feeling of being asked to offer what we’ve learned. Great leaders soon figure out that the people who’ve already traveled down a road know things that can make the trip faster, easier, and more meaningful. Seek out those who’ve already done what you’ve done.
- Turn interest into investment. When someone shows an interest — comments on your blog, remarks on your presentation, sends an email about something your company is doing — respond. Engage in the conversation. Listen actively.When people show interest, they already like what you do. You’re ahead. Start thinking about what else those people might do. Could they write a review for your blog? Could they run a Twitter chat? Invite them to think of how they add a small bit of their own to what caught their attention.
- Value every contribution. A brilliant tweet or an outstanding comment usually gets a thank you and then the conversation ends. A sincere and curious response from you can be a day changer when it’s offered to someone who didn’t expect you’d have time for them.Value every generosity and get to know who offered it. Those first acts of kindness are great ways to find people who will really invest in your business. When you find a good one, encourage the person who took the initiative to write that comment or make that Tweet to do something slightly larger next — maybe invite a brief blog post or offer a short phone chat. Moving to a higher level of engagement and trust is how relationships grow and businesses grow with them.
The aim of social business is to connect with people around what we’re doing, then to connect them with each other and keep those connections going. If we listen actively when folks tentatively step up, we’ll find we’re surrounded by people who want to participate in deeper ways than just watching us and buying our products.
The first step is recognize the folks who already love us and make a deeper connection with them.
How do you connect the people who help your business grow?
–ME “Liz” Strauss