Today, much of our interaction is done via texting, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, [insert your favorite social platform here], etc. Because of this, our ability to actually engage, connect and build authentic relationships with each other has suffered. We are all overwhelmed with requests for our attention, and people most appreciate (and notice) when you pay attention to them instead of asking them for something. Social media has created a “Look at me!” culture (ahem, the selfie movement) but cutting through the clutter and really engaging with your customers and partners will go a long way to building solid, long-term relationships and a tribe of raving fans.
Here are a few old-fashioned, simple and easy relationship building ideas that work. Most of these ideas center around “thank you” or “thinking of you.” If you give a few minutes to these social tasks each day, and if you’re a good social listener and supporter, you may even be able to hold on the “please” part.
- Recognize people’s occasions, promotions and achievements with more than an automatic “like.” Say something online that makes your wish or congratulations personal. Better yet, send a hand-written note. Chances are, people are getting more spam via cyberspace these days than through their regular mail.
- Don’t forget to say “thank you” for any recognition people give you. They will appreciate that you’re paying attention.
- When you come across an article or post that matches a contact’s interest area, be sure to send it with a few relevant comments. This reminds your contacts that you know them, you know their interests, and you pay attention to their interests.
- Network on behalf of others. If you can’t take on a project, refer it to someone you know who might be able to do it. If you know people with similar or complementary interests, introduce them with a few words about why they might like to know about each other.
- Invite contacts to events, or alert them to events you think might be useful or interesting to them.
- Buy from your clients when it’s appropriate for your needs. If they have expertise in an area, call on them when you need that expertise.
- Be certain to acknowledge publicly how much you enjoy products or how useful you find information shared with you. Acknowledge any inspiration or education you receive directly or indirectly from others.
- Give away products or information to contacts who you think will benefit: e-books, webinars, special recipes.
- Offer to write a recommendation or a testimonial. Take a few moments to write a positive review in YELP, Facebook or Twitter. Contribute relevant comments in your contacts’ online venues.
Let your genuine interest in others show through these techniques, and people will respond positively to that. These ways of listening and saying “thank you” and providing social support will make the “please” part unnecessary. If you do need to request someone’s recognition and support, though, they will be ready to give it. Just be sure you say “pretty please.”
Rhiannon Hendrickson is the founder and CEO of Orapin Marketing + Public Relations, which helps purpose-driven businesses increase awareness and attract clients and partners. She has worked with organizations of all sizes across myriad sectors to develop memorable and effective communications programs that generate awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for those that are making a meaningful impact.