Technology is great at making us more efficient, focused and productive. The explosion of online apps, digital marketing, social media and more mean we’ve got more options than ever when it comes to growing and managing a business.
There is a danger though –that as technology marches ever on, we lose the personal touch. We consign relationships to entries in a Customer Relationship Management system, or contact details in our email software. Although the digital world makes everything more convenient, we need to be careful it doesn’t do that at the expense of real, human relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and peers.
So, the question is, what can you do to continue networking and building relationships in a digital world?
Continue using “old-fashioned” ways of communicating
It’s interesting that something like a phone call or handwritten letter would be considered old-fashioned, but that actually makes them even better for building and sustaining relationships.
Pick up the phone – Give a supplier a call to thank them for prioritizing an order, call a customer after purchase to make sure everything’s working out, and have a weekly call with remote team members where you spend the first few minutes just catching up.
Use people’s first names– Dale Carnegie said, ““Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” That’s why you should make an effort to learn, remember and use people’s names. It instantly creates a connection.
Write to people, sans email – Emails, texts and other electronic communications are easy. We get so many, it’s easy to just archive or delete them. What really sticks out is a handwritten note. Whether that’s a note to a customer, a “thank you” card, or a “thank you” written on the bottom of a packing slip, it all makes a difference.
When using electronic communications, treat the other person as… a person
Building relationships is all about shared experiences, showing an interest and making an effort.
Remember and mention what you and the other person have discussed previously – If a supplier or customer shared some personal information with you previously, follow up and discuss it when you contact them. How did their son’s birthday go? Do they like their new car? Did they love their trip to Greece? Remembering and referencing previous conversations shows you have a genuine interest in others.
Check in with people– When it comes to business, it’s easy to assume “no news is good news.” Make a point of following up with clients, suppliers, peers and others. Find out if there’s anything you can do to improve things for them. It reminds others you’re there to help and shows you care about their experiences.
Don’t be afraid to share something personal – It doesn’t have to be all business, all the time. Feel free to inject a little humor or a personal note into an email, SMS or Slack chat. Wish others a good weekend and ask what they’re doing. Share information and articles you think would be interesting to them.
It’s not all about the sale– Finally, don’t use your communications to sell stuff. Instead, provide genuinely useful advice; help others understand your business, products and services; respond promptly; and treat everyone with respect.
And that’s it. It really comes down to common sense and creating connections. Just take five minutes each day to create a deeper connection with the people you do business with. It makes a big difference and is a great way to stand out and build trust.