Connections – they’re what most of us deeply desire in various facets of our lives, yet fail to pursue out of fear. We all struggle with relationships because the deeper they get, the more vulnerability the require. Therein lies the challenge to building a meaningful, impactful, and sustainable business, organization, or brand – building and maintaining stable relationships. Whether you’re developing a kick-ass mobile app, writing a screenplay, or launching a fashion line, you can’t escape the need to make connections with people. Luckily, developing recognition and trusted network of followers has never been as accessible as it is through our modern connection economy of social media.
YouTube churns out newly minted celebrities faster than American Idol ever could! Why? Because peoples’ videos inadvertently garner an intimate relationship between us and them. We’re hooked on the teenage girl who puts her make-up on in front of us, or the family that broadcasts their Disney vacation for complete strangers to subscribe to. As humans we’re hardwired to connect with the world around us and be included in something.
No matter what it is you want to do, create something with the focused intentionality to relate to people in an authentic way. Create something that reaches out to them wherever they are in life.
I love this quote from C.S. Lewis, “friendship is born at that moment when one persons says to another, ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one'”. Connection, and even friendship, is born out of our ability to put ourself out there, to be vulnerable, even in business.
We tend to use social media as a highlight reel of our lives. Though this can be effective in showcasing the beauty and aspirational quality of yourself or your brand, it can be a hindrance to establishing an authentic connection with your followers. Instagram feeds are beginning to look like carefully crafted and staged magazine spreads, rather than snapshots of what’s really happening in their lives and their businesses.
Get real about your process – the struggles, the wins, the losses. The leaders and influencers that I am most drawn to and inspired by don’t just talk about their successful, finished products, they meticulously walk you through the times where they failed, didn’t get funding, got the rejection letter(s), and still kept moving forward. People are drawn to what they can relate to, and more often than not, they relate to your struggles much more than your wins. Let them see that they can relate to you, and vice versa.
Trust – it’s easy to lose and hard to gain, but, don’t give up! Connection builds trust, and trust leads to loyalty, which leads to sales, views, referrals, shares, likes, retweets…whatever it is you’re hoping to gain through your project. Keep creating content and campaigns that reach out to your followers and fans, no matter how small that group may be, even if it’s just your Mom liking all your posts on Facebook (it just might work depending on who your Mom is).
One of my all-time favourite marketing and business leaders, Seth Godin, shares this practical advice:
Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you. Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a hundred, or a thousand or, perhaps, just three).
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and those of us in long-term relationships know that trust takes time. As you get to know your partner, you begin to trust them, and eventually love them. It doesn’t happen overnight (or, it shouldn’t, at least).
The way we do business is changing. People aren’t just looking to buy and sell anymore, they want to connect, to grow, to be inspired, and to better their lives. Build your project, art, product, or brand in a manner that facilitates connection, relationship, and eventually trust and loyalty, over everything else. It isn’t easy, and it’s worth a lot more than money (but, you’ll get lots of that, too!).
Here’s to using Instagram for more than just posting overexposed pictures of coffeeshops…