ARE YOU TRULY CONNECTED?

Being connected is vital for your business success. Connections and networks are the life blood of business and community.

You don’t need to have a zillion friends on social media. It doesn’t involve lots of contacts on LinkedIn either.

It means having authentic connections.

To be authentic relationships need to be nurtured, yet so often they are neglected. Worst still ignored until someone finds themselves in a time of need.

So, how do we maintain connections?

Let me ask you this question….

Do you like to receive mail?

I’m talking about letters, postcards, invitations etc. Not the kind that brings bills and other boring stuff.

Real, good old fashioned snail mail.

The kind of stuff that comes addressed to you personally. Handwritten, rather than typed or printed.  Something to hold in your hand. To feel the texture of the paper between your fingers, and even, sometimes, to smell the paper.

I love proper mail! But these days, it’s all too rare. My post box hardly ever yields very much of interest – apart from boring bills and even most of those come electronically.

I vividly remember, as a child, staying with my Grandma in Green Hammerton and waiting to hear the thud of the mail landing on the mat. That was back in the days when the postman pushed it through the slot in the door. Letters would tumble onto the carpet, we’d rush into the hallway to eagerly see what had been delivered.

Similarly, at boarding school, I’d anxiously await the mail distribution. Grabbing my letters I’d dash off to read them in a private space – voraciously reading the news from dear friends and family so far away.

Those letters, complete with exotic stamps from a country far away, used to sustain me through the often lonely moments of boarding school life. The best stamps on my mail came from Kenya and Liberia. Stamps from Spain meant a letter from my best friend.

Mail connected me to those I valued, loved and cared about.

Responding to each letter, postcard or note was a delight.  Choosing the stationary for my replies. Walking to the post office always with a spring in my step. Licking the stamps (even if the glue did taste horrid!) that would carry my letter to a far flung corner of the globe. It was a ritual that kept me connected.

Fast forward many years………

Online communications

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs etc have replaced the personal relationships of letters, cards and even phone calls.

Today we tend to see and share more of what’s happening in our worlds – there’s also lots of over sharing!

The flip side of this coin is, although there is a lot of sharing going on how much do we actually take in? I mean do you pay the same attention flicking through the digital space as you would to a letter, or to a phone call?

Of course you don’t. There’s so much to look through and hey, yesterday’s posts are now outdated.

So are we really more connected?

Umm, I don’t think so. In fact, I’d say definitely not.

We are only connected in the sense that we are voyeurs. We’re looking in and observing.

Kind of like a Peeping Tom, except we’ve invited this voyeurism by allowing the connection request.

These are not real, authentic connections because there is no real response.

Most are too busy scrolling down the newsfeeds to give stuff more than a cursory glance.

5 reasons why responding in the digital space makes good sense

  1. It is only when you respond that you’re truly connected. By responding you are demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to read what has been written.
  2. A written word of response is far more valuable that just a LIKE. It’s showing the person on the other end, that you value them. That you have made the time to read what they have shared and to frame a response.
  3. It’s an effective and inexpensive way to nurture your connections. We always remember people who make time for us.
  4. For people who live in isolation and have very little real-time interaction, often for reasons beyond their control, a response can mean the world. It lifts their spirits and helps them feel connected.
  5. LIKES are easy.  It’s a simple matter of clicking a button. So even if you are time poor a quick like does not go astray – not as good as a comment, but better than just scrolling past.

connected-love-writing-letterOn a personal level, I also regularly use good old fashioned handwritten cards to personalise messages.

They’re becoming rarer these days, and (I never have to lick the stamp!), but I know all who received them truly  appreciate the time taken to scribbling the note. Same as I love to receive them too!

Do you still write handwritten notes? I’d love to know if you do.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with digital communications and social media. I used it every day. It’s a vital part of my business.

Cheap and effective.  It’s also a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family far away.

The key is this – treat your connections with respect and courtesy – that means responding regularly and with authenticity.

Your business grows when you make genuine connections with your target market.

Michelle

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