5 Ways To Add More Human Connection To Your Business – Networking In A Post-COVID World

There’s nothing like a social distancing to make you reflect on the way we’re connecting with each other – especially in business. There’s a good old idiom which states “you never miss the water until the well runs dry” and in this day of up, cross and down selling, mass media marketing, webinars, public speaking (“selling from stage”) seminars, social media ads, mags and humblebrags – I’m pondering – could a more subtle and personable  approach to marketing be the key to closing sales and making more genuine business to consumer human to human connections moving forward? To expand on this idea I’m going to have to discuss some behaviours – so forgive me in advance and let’s get into it.

Since joining the ranks of endless coaches in the “coachvolution” (that’s a word now) and INSERTpreneurs of the 2010’s I have seen more e-books, audios, tips, tricks, kits, explainers, whitepapers, blueprints, masterclasses, templates, trainings, guides and God knows what other “freebies” than one could possibly shake a stick at, and with this, and I think you’ll agree – everybody knows the score, and, nobody cares too much for it anymore, not in the same way anyway, due diligence is at the forefront of the buyers mind as the collective consciousness towards consumerism is rising. 

The exchange of data for tidbits of guidance has been a gold mine for some and a complete waste of time for others and in the coaching industry, it has been somewhat tragic for the credibility of good coaching. IMO – Selling or giving away your idea of how to better your business, for example, without ever having actually run a business oneself is, well, not an honest business model.

When I started coaching I was running small whole food and internet cafe with my husband and prior to that, I had run a successful social enterprise which I launched when I was 17 years old after giving birth to my daughter and wanted to make a small contribution towards leaving the world a better place for her and other teen mum’s like me. Naturally, I am an advocate for self-care and self-sufficiency, I believe in taking up space, living in purpose on purpose and collaboration over competition – I’m a woman’s woman, so of course, I’m biased, I loved and still love the female-dominated coaching industry. 

As a conscious leadership mentor who has been blessed to work with some very conscious and mindful coaches, I have benefitted from some of the more positive aspects of what the industry has to offer. I’ve witnessed, supported, guided and celebrated women who have soared to the highest heights of entrepreneurship through coaching and better still, I have also closely watched as previously icky and “salesy” individuals had a change of heart in the way that they do business and began to employ more meaning and purposeful ethics into their business strategies, granting them and even some of their own clients stratospheric success as a result.

Many SME’s and larger companies are now joining the evolution and are also taking their social responsibility more seriously, revising their inclusion policies and making their teams more diverse, however, could we finally be ready to go back to the digital worlds best-kept marketing secret – THE WORD OF MOUTH?

Whilst I’m not in complete agreement with letting one’s work speak for itself as I have learned firsthand that there are people far less qualified achieving far more, simply because they marketed louder – I am, however, a firm believer in a more human way of connecting and nothing is or will ever be more human than conversation.

With that said, here are my top 5 ways to add more human to human connection in your business post social distancing:

1. Networking – You can’t outgrow nor outsource your networking. You can, however, reevaluate where you network for your own best use of time and efficacy. You never want to be the smartest person in the room, so, as you grow as an entrepreneur you’re naturally going to want to be able to learn from your environment as equally as you contribute to it. Networking events give us an opportunity to meet with potential investors, joint venture partners and most importantly new like-minded friends on what can be an extremely isolating journey. Consider hosting your own networking events too as they can also double as an introduction to you and your brand and offer a likeminded safe space for others who are familiar with what your company stands for.

2. Touch Base – Going live, real-time response and phone numbers are not dead. With the rise of bots and automated systems, we have stripped away most of our “personal” digital communication in the name of efficiency. while this is great for your business – not being available in-person to simply reach out, check-in or offer support to your people can have the opposite effect in the long run. Touching base regularly will let your clients know that you genuinely care and if you can’t personally be at hand, employ another real human being who can be. Having good and real customer services will enhance your companies reputation and will outlive any automated system when it comes to being a positive force in your industry.

3. Meet & Greet – Stay safe but always remember to stay humble – everyone can learn from everyone so don’t be afraid to connect with the grassroots of your consumer base. Everyone loves to put a face to the name and providing an opportunity for your most loyal supporters, advocates and newly introduced members can reflect really well on your brand’s identity and accommodate you and your desire to be more connected.

Not only can a brunch, an “Evening with xxx {CEO}” or a more casual meet and greet be an opportunity to show your customers who you are in person, you can also learn so much from them, ( i.e – how they benefit from what you offer, what they wish your company had that they currently get from elsewhere and what they think about the person behind the brand first hand) and they will have so much more respect for you when they see that you recognise that we are all human at different stages of life.

4. Pop Up Shops – Even if you have an eCommerce or service-based business, pop up shops can be your opportunity to be as creative as you like without the long term commitment. Guerilla style marketing in a pop-up location means you can focus on low-cost yet unconventional marketing tactics for maximum impact and results. Pop up shops can be a great way to increase visibility, conduct test marketing or liquidate surplus inventory — all while keeping overhead costs to a minimum. 

5. Retreats – Disclaimer* I personally abhor the ‘mass migrating’ of western business people, charging exorbitant prices to host business retreats in native spaces without any concern or contribution to the local people, communities or economy of foreign countries. Period.

With that said – There is a better way. Hosting a ‘Rejuvenation Retreat’ to leave busyness at the door, or a ‘Retreat & Eat’ to sample world foods and connect to different cultures, or a ‘not-for-profit retreat’ where you contribute to the environment your in via some kind of community service – are a few different ways in which you can be less commercial as you build genuine connections in a new environment. Retreats are a great way to encourage lower staff turnover, higher employee motivation and increased workplace productivity and morale for your team as well as a commitment to growing your company – not to mention public retreats show your people that you think differently and you actually care. When people know that you care about other people, not just them because they can pay you, they support you too – they also tell their friends!

Happy Communicating… In Real Life!

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