Building Social Media Business Relationships With The Mundane

01/11/2011

Twitter_no wall snips
What does watching football games, a fractured foot, a party gal, a nap, late night lattes, a hotel PA system and eating cheescake have in common? Twitter tweets of course.

Girlfriend, now you might be saying, "Toby, I rest my case. That's exactly why I would never think of tweeting for business. Who cares if I'm eating cheesecake or staying at a hotel with an annoying PA system?" 

  • Social media does not have walls. Hold that thought.

For my 2 cents, the special sauce of social media, and now social networks, is the opportunity to build and sustain relationships. From a business perspective that usually means customers/clients, prospects, colleagues, vendors, the media, analysts and shareholders. Did I miss anyone? Oh yes, the gate keepers! Lots of people who have hugely diverse interests. 

I spend a lot of time trying to make sense of how do you build business relationship in today's digital world. One day, it occurred to me ..

  • Social media does not have walls. Hold that thought.

This quote from Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, sheds some light and understanding on what makes a business relationship either online or offline.

"Everything that you want to achieve in life is with and through other people. Making friends with people you meet is the first step toward getting what you want and you do that by getting to know everyone on a personal level—even business contacts.

There is no such thing as a business relationship—there are only personal relationships in a business context that you are fearful of creating a personal relationship with."

Well .. I'm not so sure about the fear factor, though it certainly can be an issue. However, getting to know people on a personal level resonates with me. It also reinforces my concept of the Corner Grocery Store Relationship where the shop keeper didn't just know her customers by name but was an integrated part of the larger community.

Hang with me a bit more. 

If we were doing business together and I met you in your office, or even at your favorite coffee shop, there would be visual clues that would provide insights into your world .. personal and/or business. Those visual clues would give me the opportunity to find common ground that goes beyond my product or service.  If I were savvy (and of course I am!) I would use those clues to share with you how we are more alike than different. At the end of the day, all things being equal (more or less) people like to do business with people they know and like.

A couple of examples:

My friend and colleague Merrill Dubrow, CEO of M/A/R/C, has a huge Red Sox banner on his office wall. Wicked cool .. a Boston and baseball connection.

Photos of your family vacationing on the beach might lead to a sidebar conversation about our mutual love of the ocean. Perhaps I'd tell you about my family time at my cousin's home in Hull.

We're enjoying a cup of java at your local coffee shop. You take out your iPhone to take notes. Why, I have an iPhone too. We talk about our favorite apps. 

Back to the idea of social media does not have walls.(Finally!) In the  digital world there are no walls or cues. While we might begin our online relationship because I find the information you post is helpful to me, I still don't know who you are as a "real person."  

However, if among the value added content that you share with me in your Tweets, blog posts, LinkedIn messages, Facebook updates, or where ever we hang out together, once in awhile you drop something you are providing "cues" that help build our relationship. 

10 Tips To Decorate Your Social Media Walls

1. How personal is personal? - How much of "you" should you include in let's call them "coffee tweets" depends on a two factors: your comfort level and the culture of your organization. While some people maybe okay with chatting about their new bebe other people may be concerned with a safely factor. 

2. Pets can add that fun dimension. The Diva Marketing community knows I often include my dog Max in posts. The first time I met someone at a conference, who asked not about me but about Max, I knew there was a relationship brewing.  Max dec 07_1

3.Travel both for business and pleasure can not only give you interesting content. How about a post about a great meal and excellent service or a tweet about the TSA .. er that might be a different blog. 

 

4. A tweet or Facebook update while you're watching the Super Bowl. 

5. The weather. What you're doing during the snow storm or how you're spending the 1st day of spring.

6. Your latest venture into the kitchen along with a photo of those yummy cookies or cake disaster.

7. Your tennis team's ranking. 

8. Kids do say and do the funniest things. If you're comfortable sharing in pubic think capturing it on video.

9. What you're doing for your coffee break or lunch hour. I don't mind a few of those either. I just might be inspired to have a bagel instead of a muffin. 

10. What are your suggestions?

When asked about Twitter's vision, CEO Dick Costolo said, "Twitter is about connecting for a purpose, not just connecting." If you're purpose in using social media is for marketing or business, a little of the mundane can help bring the humanity to relationships. 

 Sidebar: Tweets borrowed from @thomsfrey @urvkish @banteringblonde @shbbll @designsponge @michaelhyatt @shellykramer