With all the talk about social media these days I think people have forgotten the importance of actual in real-life (IRL) relationships. Social media is great and I am a huge social media proponent as you know, however it does not and should not replace the real-life relationships and relationship building skills that I believe everyone should have.
Our society is becoming more and more isolated because of the technology that has been given to us. People and businesses are using social media to send out messages and share their stories and photos but many of these same people who are so open online do not even say hello to the neighbour they pass on the street or ask a customer how they are doing or what kind of service or products they are looking for when they enter their store or other place of business.
Social media should be seen as the gateway to building these ever important client and business relationships. Think of it like this, at a traditional business open house, grand opening party or anniversary event clients come through and browse your products or use your services, people smile politely and enjoy their time, perhaps a free sample, etc. In today’s world of social media you can build on the already established relationships that you have built online, and the polite smiles and small talk can be replaced with the warm handshake or embrace that you would make with an old friend. If you are using social media right, your clients or potential clients feel like they know you, they know your brand and they feel comfortable buying from you, you have narrowed the gap of trust people have for companies and have put yourself at the top of the list when they think of who they want to buy from or work with.
We need to remember that the online relationships we are building are only authentic and honest if we are speaking to and listening to our friends and our clients offline as well. If the voice you use online is one of openness and honesty, inviting clients to share with you what they are looking for in a company, but, when a client walks into your storefront or calls you on the phone you don’t speak with the same voice then all of the hard work you are doing via social media is pointless.
Here are a few great ideas of how to take the relationship you are building online, offline to reinforce the brand image you are working so hard to create.
- Host an open house – Use social media to promote the event along with more traditional methods of advertising and encourage those you know via social media to introduce themselves. Reward them for doing so by giving them a special code to use that will grant them a social media friend discount. You will be amazed at the conversations that will blossom with those who already feel like they know you via social media and will help you see the value in all of the hard work you are doing building those relationships.
- Host an informational seminar – Same principles apply as hosting an open house only this option is better suited for those who offer services to clients but do not have a physical location to invite them to. Many local bars/restaurants/coffee shops love to support other local businesses and heck why wouldn’t they you are bringing guaranteed business to their door step. Work together to promote the event and benefit from combining your resources and client pools. You provide the information for the evening and they provide some refreshments. The result, more client relationships for all!
- Attend local networking events - Your budding circle of social media friends is bound to already have some sort of social media inspired IRL events happening. By watching your social media streams for information on times and dates you can join in the fun. Try using # symbol (e.g. #Toronto) followed by your city name to find out what’s happening around you. No luck? Not to worry here is your perfect chance to start one up yourself. Following my ideas from above connect with another local business who is participating in social media and host an event together.