Small Business Is Built On Personal Relationships

by Robert Nissenbaum February 11, 2016
February 11, 2016
Business is, and always has been, built on relationships.

I’m old enough to remember all it took to close and honor a business deal was a handshake. There was an unmistakable level of trust. Yes, there was an unwritten code that you honored your word and would not enter into an agreement you couldn’t fulfil, but there needed to be more. You still didn’t do business with just anyone. You KNEW whose hand you were shaking. You had a relationship with them. You weren’t doing business with a brand. You were doing business with the person behind the brand.

Business has changed.

It’s now legal contracts, binding agreements, pre-payment. It’s become less personal and more business. Large brands came in and took over where the small mom and pop stores once dominated. They didn’t do business better. They did it cheaper, faster, easier. All of us have had a hand in that shift.

The shops and businesses that survived did so, not because they could out compete the big brands. They survived because their owners had built long and solid relationships with their customers. They knew them by name. They didn’t just sell to them. They talked. They shared stories. They bonded.

They became friends and those customers stayed loyal.

I do still see that as very much alive. I see it often in the local shops here in Proctor. I see it when I travel to Idaho. I know it exists throughout the world. Businesses small and large are thriving and growing on the simple idea of building and nurturing relationships.

When it comes to social media I am constantly hearing that reach is done. That ‘we’re getting no engagement’. That ‘we’re not seeing results.’ What I see missing – social media should be an online equivalent to what you are doing in the real world. How you network, how you interact with customers, how you conduct business should be how you operate on social media – only it’s not.

Why Not?

We broadcast, we promote ourselves. We don’t interact or engage (and I’m not talking about your own content). We don’t act as part of a community. We’re not out supporting that community, we’re not building relationships. We’re not being social.

As a small business owner you ARE the face of your business. The more you are personal and the more of yourself you bring into your content, the more opportunity you provide for others to connect. The more opportunity you have to create, develop and grow relationships. The more opportunity to develop a friendship.

If you are inextricably linked to your brand, why not leverage who you are? I get the privacy issue. I get why you would want to limit posting personal content. You can actually do both. It’s why I run a Facebook workshop dedicated to properly setting up your personal profile properly. I want you to be able to be personal yet maintain your privacy when and where necessary.

Keeping it separate.

I think there is still a point at which we can separate personal from business and still succeed. If you are engaged, if you are out supporting others, you post nonbusiness content that is relevant to your audience (you’d better know their buyer persona) and as my friend Randy Clark has said, as long as you bring a more personal tone to blog content.

Me? I do control my privacy. You won’t see pictures of my family (unless from behind) but I do share my adventures and stories. I share other non-business content. I share from others, I regularly visit and interact with others. I try to be open.

The vast majority of my social time is dedicated to being social.

I’m after relationships, the friendship. Know, Like and Trust only go so far. You want and need bonds.

As my friend Kieran Murry will tell you, friends don’t fire friends.

My challenge to you:

In the next 24 hours post something to your business page(s) that has nothing to do with your brand. It could be a community event, an adventure you just took, a great meal at a local restaurant, a dream vacation you’d like to take.

At least once per day find the page of another business you could support (maybe a local place you do business with) and add a valuable (not just ‘I agree’ or ‘great post’) comment.

In short, I want you to work on developing relationships.

What I ask:

Add the link to your post in a comment here so I can see it and a comment of value and let me know what you start seeing as a result of taking my challenge.

Are you up for the challenge?
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