Jane Applegate is an award winning writer, speaker and the author of an excellent book called '201 Great Ideas for your Small Business' which is well worth reading.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jane for my 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.'
When we talked, Jane noted that people are starting to suffer from social media fatigue. She felt they are devoting way too much time to their social media platforms and ignoring the critical issues that are facing their businesses.
Jane thinks that it's most important to focus back on the personal relationships that we have because we do business with people, we don't do business with companies.
In our interview, she gave me a number of personal relationship strategies that are very simple and basically cost very little to implement.
Here are some of these strategies:
First, reconnect with your best customers and clients.
So pick up the phone, set up a face-to-face meeting, meet them for breakfast, set up a Skype call etc. Just call them up and find out what they're working on, where they are, what challenges they are facing and see where you can be of service.
Jane thinks that's really important because if we start taking our customers and clients for granted they will most definitely drift away.
The next strategy is to join or re-join or start attending again any sort of local networking or professional group.
People say they are too busy, they are too tired, they can't get out to that Chamber of Commerce meeting or Business Association Meeting etc.
Jane thinks that's a huge mistake.
She thinks that once a week you need to get out to mix and mingle with like-minded business people.
When Jane goes to a business meeting, she has always made some valuable connections.
One really fun little strategy that's in Jane's book is to always ask somebody for two if not three of their business cards. Why? Because if you think that they are a valuable person you can keep one card and then pass the others along and people are especially flattered.
As Jane explained, when I meet you and I say 'wow you're terrific, I want to keep in touch, may I have two cards,' all of a sudden they just light up because you are going to become their PR person. So that's a really fun, easy sort of networking strategy.
The idea is to figure out how you can be of service to them. Ask them what they are doing, what they need. It's just important to get out and look people in the eye and not suffer from the small business isolation that a lot of entrepreneurs suffer from.
Jane shared something else I really liked.
She said don't be afraid to go a little old school and start using the telephone and writing letters again. Jane has gotten through to some amazing people who completely ignore email at the moment but when she sent them a personal note or scheduled a telephone call, she seemed to move forward and make a positive connection.
I like Jane's ideas of developing personal relationships at a much deeper level with the people in our business.
I recall that one of the most successful real estate people I interviewed told me his secret to success was he got on the phone for one day every three months and just rang up the top 20 per cent of his customers for a quick chat.
He said that works far better than 100 emails to the same people and it keeps him busy for the next three months in terms of new business.
Look for ways to deepen the personal relationships in your business.
"Make sure that your actions make your customers feel as if they've just been to Disneyland as they leave your office, rather than that they've been to the dentist."
What can you do to start developing the personal relationships in your business?