We were sitting in an agency board meeting the other day, and our chairman posed an important question. To paraphrase: ”Are showing our clients enough love?”
We counsel on employee and community engagement. We work for Satmetrix, a great customer experience and relationship company. Yet, in trying to help bring success to our clients, we may be allowing ourselves to focus so much on the “what” and the “how” that we miss out on the “who” in our business. How about you?
Life’s pace doesn’t help. We live in a world of text messaging, status updates, Tweeting and doing more with less. In her post of an interview with Seth Godin, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, asked about connection in a world where technology is giving us unprecedented access to one another. Godin’s take was interesting: “I think that ‘connection’ is a very loaded term online. There are certainly a lot more friendlies online. Friendlies are people you have a modicum of permission with, the ability to show up without appearing to be a stranger. But that’s different from being missed when you don’t return. If you’re not missed, you really haven’t made a connection with leverage.”
So, if we only have this true connection with a few dozen, as Godin also suggested (and let’s assume some will be family), how much do we invest in our business life, and how? Robert Cialdini, PhD., a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, focuses on the “how” in his principles of persuasion. He was recently quoted about one of his classic six principles of influence — the principle of liking. “We like people who like us,” he said to AdvisorToday.com. “We say ‘yes’ to people we like. People want a counselor who likes them,” he adds. “That’s where they feel safe.”
Strong social ties are a key to happiness or satisfaction. Relationships in business aren’t likely to be equal to those with family and friends, but most of us could do better at building our social “liking” network by using a few simple approaches:
Be a group member. Better yet, set one up. LinkedIn, for instance, offers the virtual group. It’s also good to see if your colleagues, customers and clients want to join together on everything from industry issues to a monthly book club. Or, try Plaxo or Flickr or any of a number of others.
Use social media. The pace issue is real. It tends to keep us apart. There is no excuse, though, in an age of such technological marvels as Facebook, to be out of personal touch with business connections, former colleagues or friends.
Go there. Whether it’s the PRSA meeting across town or the client office three hours away, go! Be with somone you like (or might like) and who likes you. It makes for better business.
Be ambiently aware. It’s OK. Transferring liking into the relationship with customers can feel strained. “I only have a handful of good friends,” some argue when I bring this up. But social media and sporadic personal contact contribute to what sociologists have called “ambient awareness” of those in your network. Look it up. It’s OK; maybe even useful.
Fun is a good thing, too. Cultivate liking with business associates based on your mutual interests. I am a consistently mediocre golfer. It has served me well. There is always a way to get together for fun. Just do it!
Write notes (the analog kind). I took some time to write personal notes a few months ago. It made my day. Make an effort to do one each week, even if the note says only “I was thinking of you, and hope we can talk in person soon.”
Allow people to be people. Particularly challenging in business is the occasional client or customer (or boss) who will get on your nerves. As a friend of mine likes to say, though, ”behind every face there is a soul,” and we owe even our most casual acquaintances the benefit of the doubt from time to time. Chill!
So, there they are. One for each day of the week. How about some comments on other ways to increase liking in your business?