We connect with our clients and contacts in many different ways — telephone calls, emails and by sharing on social networks. The quality of those interactions determines how we make our contacts feel. If we do it well, we make them happy. Compare this to gift-giving.
Consider two scenarios: One Christmas morning years ago, the one gift remaining was for me, and it was from my little brother. I tore the gift open and was a little crestfallen to find "The Simpson's Fun Book" — a kids' book that he clearly wanted for himself.
Fast forward almost 15 years. I was enjoying Christmas with my soon-to-be bride. "Are you ready to open your present?" she asked. I tore opened what looked like a giant picture frame to find a map of the world carefully mounted on corkboard. It came with a plastic container of red pins. "Everywhere we travel together, we can mark with the red pins," she said. It was a perfect gift — my fiancée had anticipated exactly what I wanted.
When we share articles and information with our contacts, are we too self-serving? Do we share information in tune with their needs and struggles? Or do we share self-serving material clearly designed to get people to hire us?
Just as I could tell the different between two gifts, so can your clients.
Barger & Wolen marketing director Heather Morse tells a story about the firm's founding partner, Richards Barger. He could often be found at the photocopy machine, running off articles to send to contacts, clients and other attorneys within the firm. Didn't you love it, she asked attorneys during a marketing session, when he took the time to send something of interest to you?
LinkedIn can work the same way. Sure, there's no handwritten note. But you can still personalize your message.
A lot has been said and written about the impersonal nature of social media, but the problem isn't the technology — it's the way we use it. We can blast our network with every article we write, never taking the time to read what other people post or to answer their questions, but that isn't the highest and best use of tools like LinkedIn. The best use is to facilitate both sharing with a large number of people and personal engagement with individuals. No more trips to the copy machine — now you can copy and paste a link, add a personal note and send the article off via email or post it via your favorite social network.
This is not marketing, at least not in the traditional sense. It is truly business development. You are working to build stronger relationships with people who you already know.
Take the time to share good information. Make thoughtful decisions about the information you choose to share. That will make your clients and contacts smile for years.