Earlier this year, I had been out on the road for the two weeks: Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco; attending tradeshows, conferences, and workshops. In each location, I had the opportunity to hear presentations pertaining to small business topics. What did I conclude? The rapid pace of technological changes is molding people’s perceptions of the world. Technology is making it easier for people to reach to share ideas and information.
As I listened to various speakers, I found that now more than ever building relationships and building trust is key. Potential customers don't want you to sell yourself to them. They want to know how the product or service benefits them. They want to feel your sincerity. They want to know that your business is one they can trust. Online resources provide a great vehicle for building trust. Testimonials and business reviews are valuable tools that help small and mid-sized businesses demonstrate their trustworthiness.
When using electronic media to communicate with your customers, are you creating a monologue or opening up a dialogue? Monologues generally only take one point of view into account. Dialogues leave room for multiple perspectives, for expanding ideas, and are much more effective for building relationships. Dialogues share ideas and develop understanding.
Twitter is a great tool for building relationships, allowing you to microblog about your thoughts, products, or services. Twitter gives you up to 140 characters (known as a tweet) to make your point. Tweeting is great exercise for distilling your message down to the important bits, because there isn’t room for extra fluff. A good tweet is interesting enough to capture attention and elicit a response. Monologues are boring; the best tweets encourage dialogue. I have found that by asking questions and commenting on others’ tweets, I have been able to create dialogue.
There are people on Twitter that don't really have much to say. They use it to whine and complain. I opt-out of receiving these people's tweets. I don't really need to hear the complaints of strangers. They are not building dialogue. What I want from Twitter is to hear ideas that make me: think in new and different ways, look toward useful information, and hear thoughts that get me smiling. I also enjoy having great conversations, where we are bantering back and forth about business concepts. It is good natured and friendly. That is relationship building. Now, I instantly recognize their profile icons and read what they have to say rather than let the tweets pass by.
When I first started tweeting, I tried to just tell people about my products. I had around 75 followers for 3-4 months. Once I wrapped my head around building relationships and not selling myself too hard, I started to pick up followers. In a little under two months, I've picked up nearly 1,000 followers. Over time, I am seeing interest in my products grow.
So as you use social networking tools to help you in your business, take the time to think about what you convey. Are you creating conversations that allow room for others to contribute? If you do, you will build trust, develop relationships, and ultimately grow your business!