Are you familiar with match.com, the dating website? I’ve never really spent any time on the site, but it is evidently one of the most popular sites of its kind in the world.
You know how it works… men and women log in and pore over profiles to try and find someone whose background looks appealing… then they email or IM back-n-forth to learn about each other and maybe schedule a date. And from all accounts, it’s been a pretty successful site.
But have you seen the latest offering from them (on TV ads)? They now sponsor events around the country called, “The Stir.” They’re live, in-person social gatherings – wine tastings, group bowling, and so on. Not online… not virtual… but real people meeting and talking in an effort to get to know one another. What a concept!
Not having insight into match.com’s strategy, the conclusion I come away with re: The Stir is that their online site might be a great way to look for someone… but these in-person, look-you-in-the-eye-and-talk-to-you gatherings can really help you to connect on a personal level.
There’s a lesson here for your firm. Are you relying on your website, email, blog and social media to help you build relationships with clients and prospects? If so, it’s time to get out from behind your computer and really connect with your audience.
Commit to visiting each of your major clients… not to sell, but just to talk and learn about your contacts and their business. Go on sales calls with your sales reps… be part of the presentation, but mostly listen. Exhibit at conferences and work the booth. Invite local clients and prospects to your offices. Entertain your clients… they’ll open up to you when they’re away from the office and you can get to know them on a personal level. And if in-person doesn’t always fit with your schedule… at least pick up the phone and talk every once in a while.
Your goal is to connect with your clients and prospects on a one-to-one, personal level… to get to know them beyond just bids, projects and reports. Because the bottom line is this… “All things being equal, people do business with they like. All things not being equal, people still do business with people they like.”
And when your prospects and clients like you, it becomes awfully hard for your competitors to try to squeeze themselves in the middle… and that’s a strong competitive advantage.