We live in a digital age. In 2018, there is no hiding from that fact, and we need to be willing to embrace everything that comes with this digital world.
But, don’t be fooled in to thinking that there is no power in face to face, real world, human interaction. In fact, I believe more so now than ever that human relationship building in business will be the skill that sets those that are successful apart from those that fall behind. It is a skill that many lack, especially the younger the entrepreneur, and will in time become a real asset to those who possess it.
Let me explain.
You see we live in a world where people have become more introverted. Children are growing up without the skills to speak to people and form true relationships outside of social media. It is so much easier to hide behind your phone and send an instant message, a WhatsApp, or text. It is much easier to write an email and receive the potential rejection, than pick up the phone and speak to people. Technology also allows us to do this at scale, which appeals to many. The problem with this is businesses succeed and thrive when strong, and trusted relationships are formed. These can be with customers, suppliers or peers and competitors. You may have mentors or those you look up to and aspire to. All of this happens better in person. Yet we are becoming afraid of doing the in person interactions.
Whenever I think of this situation I always recall the film the intern. Where two older guys [Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson] get internships at Google with a load of millennial tech experts. What they bring to the table is human interaction. Real connections that mean something. Not just the ability to write emails and text quickly and competently without any building of rapport. Of course when these two actors are involved there is a high element of comedy. But the fact remains; the film brings to live a real sociological issue our society has in the way we operate in business. However, my view is always where there are problems, there are opportunities for those willing and able to exploit them to their own benefit.
My advice to all small and micro businesses is as follows.
Don’t hide behind technology. Get yourself in front of people. Have a coffee, go for lunch, have a face to face meeting. Of course you can utilise technology to facilitate opening these opportunities, but only use it to open the door. Make sure you personally walk through the door.
What If I am an online company? I hear you say. Then this strategy of being human, and having face to face meetings- or worst case skype or video meetings, will work even better for you. You are operating in a world where everyone wants to be anonymous and not build human relationships. This can build on to your USPs, and set you aside from your competitors. You may find some great business partners who become great friends, and are the link to building your business you have been looking for.
So where do you start?
Well there are plenty of business networking events all over the world. Organisations specifically set up to bring humans together to help each other. These are structured, and typically at a fee, but should be come a key part of your marketing strategy.
Your next steps need to be to try and ask where appropriate for face to face meetings. Those people you meet online, invite for a coffee. Maybe if a group of you are local you can form a mastermind group which meets for a coffee, and helps each other grow their business as you meet and progress. This would work especially well for those that run their business part time, like newbie bloggers etc.
Overall my advice is make as many human interactions as possible. Stop hiding behind technology and have more actual conversations.
Let me know how you get on. Id love to hear some of your successes.