Approachability is more than just face-to-face. It’s about being findable, reachable and knowable—not just in person, but on the Web.
Here are six ways to increase your digital approachability:
1. Build online knowability
Since day one, you’ve been beaten over the head with three words: “Know your customer.” Actually, there’s a bigger question at stake:How well do your customers know you? This question matters because trust is a function of self-disclosure, and when trust is the only currency that counts—which it is—if your customers don’t know you, you lose.
The secret to making your online identity more knowable is a combination of several elements. First, photography: images showing you doing what you do in front of the people who matter most. Second, role definition: mapping out the various ways customers can use you. Third, memorializing your values. After all, people don’t just buy what you sell, they buy what you stand for and why you stand for it. Remember: Hiding the true picture of who you are is a risk you can’t afford to take. Share yourself. That’s all branding is anyway: Committing to and acting from the best, highest version of yourself.
How well do your customers know you?
2. Keep the virtual loop open
If you don't do this, you’ll never develop an ongoing relationship with your market, audience, customers and other people who matter. The secret is to combine outreach with attraction. Here are the essentials:
- The speed of the response is the response. Even if you’re not able to solve your people’s problem right away, providing consistent assurance that you’re on the case preserves their sense of control.
- Ask for feedback. Take heed. Take notes. People will tell you how to serve them better. They will also tell you how to sell to them better.
- Communicate with meaningful, concrete immediacy.Address only what’s relevant to their experience, be concise in your messaging, and give people actionable ideas they can execute.
Do you get back to customers quicker than your competitors?
3. Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness
Did you know that 80 percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating? According to the study by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, “Flirty messages and photographs are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behavior or irreconcilable difference.” Here’s the reality: It’s not a computer problem—it’s a character problem. The longer you keep lying to the person you’re supposed to be committed to, the more it’s going to show. And if you’re a cheat, your body will always tell the truth. Especially to the people who matter most. If you plan to live a dishonest life offline, there’s going to be a huge echo online. And your digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel to destroy the most important thing in your life.
Is your online performance equal to your offline reality?
4. Grow bigger ears
A few sad realities: The world is not waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say; the blogosphere is not standing on the edge of their seats eagerly anticipating your next post; your followers on Twitter are not waking up an hour earlier just to read the hilarious update about your Rottweiler’s latest adventure. Truth is: Social media isn’t a marketing tool, it’s a hearing aid. Stop using it as a selling too and start leveraging it as a listening platform. For example, I contribute to around 50 different publications, both online and offline. And as a writer and speaker, doing so is essential element of my visibility plan and a crucial component to my listening platform. But I don’t just give people my e-mail, I offer them an additional resource to supplement the piece of content they just read, watched or listened to.
Are you listening to the sound of your own voice or the music of your customer’s voice?
5. Be a virtual extrovert
In the pivotal book Jim and Casper Go to Church, I learned the difference between “outreaching,” which is inviting people to join your group, and “inbreaking,” which is joining an existing community action. According to my friend and occasional mentor Jim Henderson, “We can find out what groups in our community are already doing to make life better for people and join them. Rather than start groups, we could join their groups. Rather than join groups to convert people, we could join them to connect with and serve people.” Next time you go online, try this: Consider the types of members you hope to attract. What groups are they already a part of? What role in the community do they currently occupy? Create a gameplan to take a more active role in those spaces. People will notice.
Whose life are you willing to become a part of?
Remember: Being approachable is much more than face-to-face interaction. It’s about creating a digital name tag.