By Shane Singh, Editorial Intern, REALTOR® Magazine
Let’s face it: Between using Twitter to advertise properties and Facebook as a way to get more exposure, the real estate industry–and the globe, for that matter–has gone social networking crazy. In The Connectors (Wiley, 2009), however, author Maribeth Kuzmeski argues the importance of connecting, rather than just networking. “We have a tendency to brush off the importance our ability to connect and create relationships as a key contributor and explanation for business success,” Kuzmeski writes. “True connections need to be made with feeling and purpose and honesty.” The Connectors is both instructional and psychological, breaking down the art of connecting via a series of short chapters, step-by-step guides, and personal assessment questionnaires. Using Kuzmeski’s own research, the book dissects all aspects of the business-client relationship, from understanding customers’ motives better to managing your time with them.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a “people person,” you can still be a connector. When you connect, you’re not connecting with everyone, but focusing on your relationship with a few select clients. Here are five of Kuzmeski’s tips on how to be a great connector:
1. Ditch the Christmas cards. Usingmass mailings as a way to keep in touch does not act as a replacement for personal connections. There are impersonal connections that rely on general information, and there are personal connections that communicate information specific to the person receiving it. Opt for the latter.
2. Differentiate yourself by the impact you leave on others. “Oftentimes, it’s the small surprises that truly get people talking,” Kuzmeski writes. But “don’t assume that what people are talking about is actually the core of what you do or provide.” It’s about doing the unexpected. What are some unexpected attributes of your business that people could talk about?
3. Stop networking. “The goal isn’t to be the winner of the most business cards received at an event. That just gives you more cold-prospecting and follow-up to do after an event,” Kuzmeski says. The quality of your relationships is more valuable than the quantity. Juggling a few referrals and prospects–versus a database of them–allows you to focus on the individual and cater to specific needs.
4. Understand how social media really works. Though Kuzmeski argues against business-card collecting and mass networking, you can’t ignore online social media sites like YouTube, MySpace, and LinkedIn. Thus, understand that social media puts power in the hand of the client. “It may be tempting for some to tell the virtues of their product or service, but it is vital that they come to this conclusion as a result of their own actions, and not yours. Social media requires that,” she says. When interacting on social media, be personable–before advertorial.
5. Don’t just talk. Curiously listen. Clients will recognize a curious listener as someone who cares. You can’t gain trust by showering clients with stories of your accomplishments, nor can you do it by interrupting, jumping to conclusions, or climbing on a soapbox to demonstrate how much you know about something. The first step is to figure out what your clients want from your specifically.
“The definition of an experience is something that engages people in a personal way…unexpectedly. As experience isn’t a large event or party. It is a gift of a connection that is made-either one-on-one or through a series of interactions. The overall feeling that is transferred is the experience. And the more memorable that feeling is, the more powerful the experience. As your clients leave your place of business or hang up the phone, do they say ‘wow’ about you? (In a good way, of course.)”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maribeth Kuzmeski is the president of Red Zone Marketing LLC, which works with Fortune 500 companies on business growth and strategic marketing. She speaks worldwide on topics relating to the marketing of professional services and how relationships with clients correlate to a business’ success. For The Connectors, Kuzmeski conducted hundreds of interviews and researched some of the world’s most successful “connectors” including CEO’s, top sales professionals, and famous founders of companies to describe the tangible “how to’s” of developing better, more profitable connections.