In business, we’re told to focus on our primary function. But some tend to do this to the exclusion of any other efforts. The connections will always matter.
There’s a conversation I have with S. Anthony Iannarino often about this fork in the road, he observes, between transactional selling and relationship-minded selling. He writes about it often (one example). It’s funny, we both observe, that so many people “say” they’re in the relationship business, but they work from the transactional mindset. Sell. Move on. Sell. Move on. Forget the person as soon as you’ve sold them.
And yet, there’s another issue at hand, especially highlighted by our new “social media” world. People want a lot more relationship sometimes then you’re able to give. One of the biggest dirty “secrets” (it’s not a secret at all) is that the up and comers will feel underappreciated and unloved by the perceived “A list.” Essentially, anyone who is newer than you will feel that you are a “name” and aren’t doing enough to make it a “two way street.” (Quid pro quo, Starling.)
How does one navigate the push to build relationship-based business with the desire of social/online connections to feel appreciated as part of your community at large?
Connect Where You Can
It’s a constant effort to do what you can to stay connected to those who are reaching out to you, but if Gary Vaynerchuk can still make a valid effort at nearly 1 million Twitter followers, then you can, too. Gary reaches out every day in some form or another to some number of those who are trying to capture his attention. I love watching people like author Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer reach out ceaselessly to connect with their tribes where they can, as well. It’s just not an excuse to say that too many people are trying to connect. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to respond at all.
I receive an email or tweet every few days (used to be every day) from someone telling me they are sick of tweeting out links to my posts and I never reciprocate. I hear from people all the time who tell me that they sent an email asking me to check out their blog post and I didn’t leave a comment. There are always going to be tweets that don’t get mentioned, comments on blog posts that don’t see a reply. It’s going to happen, because there’s one of me, and there are only so many hours in the day. I’ll fail you. I’ll fail lots of yous.
But I don’t care. I’ll connect in some way as often as I can every day. Because the connections matter. Getting the chance to sit with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus at lunch a month or so ago was priceless. Talking with Jeff Goins for a few minutes about his new book and his views of the world was worth every second. And when I can retweet a friend or respond to someone’s question, hopefully, that’s a decent connection, as well.
Subscribers to my newsletter know by now that I write them back, usually ridiculously fast. And that connection is why I bother to write the newsletter in the first place.
The Business Value of Connections
I connect with people because I love people and it’s my mission to help people realize their own great value. But it’s also my business. It’s my business to connect and show that through these connections, interesting and sometimes far-reaching things can happen. I never seek out “high value targets” because what I’ve come to learn is that the best experiences I’ve had in this universe come from the “little guys,” the “up and comers,” those people who don’t yet feel loved enough. Those people are who find amazing experiences, who want to share them, and through that sharing, bring tons more value to the greater community I have the pleasure to serve. For every “big name” interaction I have, it’s the experiences with those people who feel unseen that often yield an actual and tangible business value of some sort (either for me or for them and hopefully sometimes for both of us).
Connect with people. Connect with them often. Value those connections as best as you can. Do what you can. And life will be so much more magical. And business? Well, the value of my business is much greater than the value of businesses where you only speak with “customers.” Hah. Imagine that. Limiting yourself to those who buy. Good luck with that.