Deep Down We All Want To Connect With Each Other!
It’s been a long journey for me to be comfortable about being intimate in my business relationships.
I would not say that I am emotionally challenged, it’s just that I use to believe that business is just business, where socialising and being personal with colleagues and clients, always took second place to spending time with my family and friends.
Now, while my priorities have remained unchanged, I now see things from an entirely different perspective and consider it an imperative to be intimate in our business relationships as well – particularly in this age of The New Economy For Business.
However, there are specific ways or strategies, as to how you go about this…
What I am referring to is about creating a deeper understanding and connection to your customer’s dreams, hopes, desires and fears, while also sharing what you stand for as well.
You must get to know your customers by identifying their specific needs and established a genuine interest and desire to help them. In other words, a level of emotional awareness, rather than just a transactional or surface level knowledge like if you were just entering data into a CRM tool and all your customers are just one big homogenous list of names that you are trying to sell stuff to.
But It’s Not About Manipulation
Now to suddenly switch over and start asking your customers all sorts of intimate questions is not only weird, you might even get locked up. Besides that, it is just not natural and will be seen for what it is, a sleazy approach to trying to win business. As Simon Sinek says…
“there are only two ways to influence human behaviour – you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it”
For me, I’ll take inspiration anytime and it comes from being really motivated to connect with my customers, help them and that their experience working with me and my company will always be a valuable one.
That is why if you are not doing this already, you need to make these changes strategically, subtly and purposely, so that it just becomes who you are, your identity, either individually, or as a business. In time, this becomes how you do things from now on and that your customers appreciate this about you as well.
Instead, It Starts With Creating Avatars
In other words, this is marketing “101” and segmenting your target customers into sub groups in which you have identified criteria or needs that are unique to only these individual sub groups.
This could be based on where they live, their education, their age, marriage status, income, interest, culture etc etc. Then once you have done this, you can then start to design your solutions that will be more relatable to the unique needs for each of these segments or customer Avatars.
Also in a general sense, you need to be more engaging. For example, suppose you were attending a business event and were meeting people for the first time. Of course, the obvious question that always comes up is “what do you do?”. But what if instead of that, you went about asking people a different set of questions, ones which you are generally interested to hearing the answers like “what brought you here today?”, or “what struck you to think that this event might be useful for you?”. Then you listen to their responses as though they are your best friend, without judgement, bias or thinking about yourself, because this is their moment and not yours!
This is also true for your social media presence and in your publications. Remember this is your identity from now on – this is who you are!
Thinking Differently Will Help Too
But it did take me time to come to terms with this, because in many ways I am a very private person.
Also, I had to challenge old belief systems and biases and basically re-wire my brain, because I had spent years in a corporate environment and as a result of this, had learned to modify my natural self in order to fit in – from the suit, to how I spoke publicly, to who I connected with in social media.
If you think this is quite strange to hear, I would just like to encourage you to reflect on this yourself and how you are currently interacting with others and the possibility that you may also have a public face and a private face.
However, as I started to change and engage more intimately in a business setting and be more authentic, things started to change around me – and for the better!
For instance, my self-confidence, ability to contribute and help others all increased, but at the same time, comfortable with the reality that not everyone will “get” me and what I stand for. In fact, in this crazy world of social media and trolls, criticism is easily obtained, and when it does, just move on, knowing that you are being true to yourself.
But here’s the thing, while some will not relate to you, many will see you as the real deal and know that you are genuine and care. For me, I think this is one of the most important things today.
Intimate Relationships Can Create Sustainability
No matter how small or large your professional practice or business is today, do you think that once you define your ideal customer Avatar and start to segment your customers into meaningful groups, based on some common or shared needs, and then start creating specific solutions to meet these needs, you will also achieve some great outcomes?
What about if you start to engage more intimately with your customers, be more authentic, could that change how they engage with you in a positive sense?
You see, I believe you are only one conversation away from achieving some awesome results that will have a significant impact to your business for the long term. None of this requires any financial investment, only a change in mindset, of which can all start today!
A Take Away
As a last word on this from Simon Sinek, maybe he is referring to your business and your customers…
“The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when”