I wear a nametag twenty-four seven.
But sometimes that’s not enough.
THE REALITY IS: Approachability is more than just face-to-face.
It’s about being findable.
It’s about being reachable.
It’s about being knowable.
Straight from my monthly column with American Express Open Forum, here are six ways to increase your digital approachability:
1. Build online knowability. Since day one, you’ve been beaten over the head with three words: “Know your customer.” Actually, there’s a bigger question at stake: How well do your customers know you?
This question matters because trust is a function of self-disclosure. It’s a basic tenant of human communication. And when trust is the only currency that counts – which it is – if your customers don’t know you, you lose.
The secret to making your online identity more knowable is a combination of several elements. First, photography. Images showing you doing what you do in front of the people who matter most. Second, role definition. Mapping out the various ways customers can use you. Third, memorializing your values. After all, people don’t just buy what you sell – they buy what you stand for and why you stand for it.
Hiding the true picture of who you are is a form of reputational risk you can’t afford to take. Share yourself. That’s all branding is anyway: Committing to and acting from the best, highest version of yourself – every day. How well do your customers know you?
2. Keep the virtual loop open. Otherwise you’ll never develop an ongoing relationship with your market, audience, customers and other people who matter. The key is to combine outreach with attraction. To make it easy for readers, subscribers and audience members to engage with you, every day. Whatever online tools you use to keep the loop open, here are the essentials:
First, the speed of the response is the response. Even if you’re not able to solve your people’s problem right away, providing consistent assurance that you’re on the case preserves their sense of control. Second, ask for their feedback. Take heed. Take notes. People will tell you how to serve them better. They will also tell you how to sell to them better.
Third, communicate with meaningful concrete immediacy. Address only what’s relevant to their experience, be concise in your messaging, and give people actionable ideas they can execute – today – to make their lives better. Do you get back to customers quicker than your competitors?
3. Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness. Did you know that eighty percent of divorce lawyer have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating? Apparently, Facebook is by far the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating. According to the study by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers:
“Flirty messages and photographs are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behavior or irreconcilable difference.”
It’s not a computer problem – it’s a character problem. The longer you keep lying to the person you’re supposed to be committed to, the more it’s going to show – not just on your Facebook page – but on your face. And if you’re a cheat, your body will always tell the truth. Especially to the people who matter most.
If you plan to live a dishonest life offline, there’s going to be a huge echo online. And your digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel to destroy the most important thing in your life. Don’t scapegoat your dishonesty on social media – blame it on social stupidity. Is your online performance equal to your offline reality?
4. Grow bigger ears. A few sad realities: The world is not waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say. The blogosphere is not standing on the edge of their seats eagerly anticipating your next post. And your followers on Twitter – who, by the way, don’t care about your tweets as much as they care about their stats – are not waking up an hour earlier just to read the hilarious update about your Rottweiler’s latest genital licking adventure.
Social media isn’t a marketing tool – it’s a hearing aid.
Stop using it as a selling too and start leveraging it as a listening platform. For example, I contribute to around fifty different publications, both online and offline. And as a writer and speaker, doing so is essential element of my visibility plan and a crucial component to my listening platform.
But I don’t just give people my email – I offer them an additional resource to supplement the piece of content they just read, watched or listened to.
That’s how I’ve changed the interaction model. And the cool part is, growing bigger ears enables the following leverage question: What does expanding your listening platform earns you the right to do? Answer: Everything, that’s what. Everything. Are you listening to the sound of your own voice or the music of your customer’s voice?
5. Be a virtual extrovert. In the pivotal book Jim and Casper Go to Church, I learned the difference between “outreaching,” which is inviting people to join your group, and “inbreaking,” which is joining an existing community action. According to my friend and occasional mentor Jim Henderson:
“We can find out what groups in our community are already doing to make life better for people and join them. Rather than start groups, we could join their groups. Rather than join groups to convert people, we could join them to connect with and serve people.”
Next time you go online, try this: Consider the types of members you hope to attract. What groups are they already a part of? What role in the community do they currently occupy? Create a gameplan to take a more active role in those spaces. People will notice. People shouldn’t have to adjust to you. You need to adapt for them. Less outreach, more inbreak. Who life are you willing to become a part of?
REMEMBER: Being approachable is much more than face-to-face interaction.
It’s about creating a digital nametag.
Stick yourself out there today.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you e-pproachable?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I wear a nametag twenty-four seven.