Welcome to Part 4 of my blog series on Going From Good to GREAT. If you haven’t read Part 1:Creating Core Values in the Relationship Economy, Part 2: Engage an Effective Vision or Part 3: Validate Your Employees yet, I recommend that you read it for a little perspective and understanding of our conversation. On the other hand, even if you haven’t read part 1, 2 or 3, I’ve written the series so that each article is independent of the other parts. If you have read my first piece, you might want to skip down a little lower to the guts of Part 4. I have include the upper part of my previous post in the beginning of this article as a quick refresher so it might make a little more sense to you, the reader.
What does it require to take your business or personal life from Good to Great?
I have found in my research and experience the same traits that create a great personal life also create a powerful business life. What’s good for you personally is good for your business as both are intimately connected to people. A company is a living, breathing, entity, just as you are, made up of collective parts that create a whole. It exists within a sphere of relationships, just as you are.
From time to time you’ll see articles written by me in my “Good to Great” series. Today’s article is on creating Core Values. I’ve written it from the corporate perspective, however, even if you don’t own or lead a company, you likely work for one, and knowing the information I’m sharing here is a step forward for you to be an even better version of yourself whether you’re the CEO or at the bottom of the organizational chart. The research and ideas listed here can also be used to cultivate awareness which serves to support you in your journey to be a better human being. What I have come to understand in my experience over the past 25 years researching and speaking on personal and business relationships, is that the skills and techniques that make better organizations also make better people.
In today’s world, we are moving into a post-consumer age called the relationship economy. With the widespread use of the internet, instant global communications and most dramatically, social media, we are entering an era defined by two-way relationships between brands and bodies. Today’s consumer wants to be heard, whether it’s to voice a concern to management or request a particular color image on their laptop case. Transactions are being defined by emotions and relationships not just dollars and cents.
According to Forbes Magazine, 78% of consumers say that posts made by companies on social media influence their purchases and an even greater 81% say that posts made by their friends influence their purchasing decisions. This result was from a 2012 survey. One can only imagine with the continued permeation of social media into all aspects of our lives that this number has only increased. Relationships drive purchase decisions. Purchases are the lifeblood of every company.
With this knowledge, how does an enterprise go from Good to Great? We build relationships. True two-way relationships which interact regularly with customers to receive and act on their input. The customers of today are much more savvy then in years past and expect company’s to pay attention to them. They also have instantaneous and much louder methods for voicing their displeasure as well as their support. (Case in point, the recent media exposure regarding Southwest Airlines and a gentleman and his two young daughters that were booted off a flight for the father Tweeting his displeasure about a rude gate agent. Allegedly the gate agent made him de-plane, and insisted that he delete his Tweet on Twitter before being allowed to re-board and fly. Click for the full article here by ABC News.)
With the Relationship Economy in-mind I’ve laid out the 5 V’s of building a Great Enterprise. The 5 V’s are:
1. Values: Create Core Values
2. Vision: Engage an Effective Vision
3. Validate: Validate Your Employees
4. Village: Build a Village Through Relationships
5. Voice: Listen to the Voice of Your Current and Potential Customers.
These 5 V’s: Values, Vision, Validation, Village and Voice, are built around the concept of improving relationships inside and outside of the company. In fact, the 5 V’s are closely based on my RelationShift® model of success and reflect the importance I put on positive, uplifting relationships in both our personal and professional lives.
In this article I will speak on the fourth concept: Village.
In a recent article of mine published at SwitchandShift.com, Your Social Role in the Shifting Relationship Economy, I quoted visionary Jerry Michalski. Michalski shared, “Smart companies are building authentic relationships with their customers, no longer treating them as consumers. Smart governments are figuring out how to trust their citizens by opening their data and their budgeting processes, among other ways.”
The social and economic world is in a process of dramatic change. We are moving out of the Information Age into a new Relationship Economy. Business and personal relationships alike are being bound together via the internet and social media to a point where it is critical we begin to consider the fundamental changes coming today and in the near future. The future will begin to challenge the traditional sources of wealth and influence, injecting a new digital social component to the equation. Those who harness the power of relationships now, will set themselves up for greater success in the future.
Business in particular needs to begin considering their social footprint now. According to Social Media Expert, Brian Solis, Principal Analyst of Altimeter Group, “Genuine communication and engagement in social media helps businesses improve relationships with employees and customers while also improving the bottom line”. Supporting this thought, in the recent IDC, ICT Market Outlook: What’s Next, found 28% of enterprises were using social information to make business decisions in 2010, and estimate the trend to rise to 85% by 2020.
“Leaders who still think that relationships are driven by tangible results are living in the past. Today’s results are largely driven by the intangible capital an organization creates, or doesn’t create, for the benefit of its stakeholders.” – Jay Deragon
Waiting for customers to show up at your physical or virtual storefront doesn’t work like it once used to. Today’s entrepreneurs and business executives build awareness through advertising, campaigns, surveys, and more. This however, isn’t enough to go from Good to Great. To move ahead of your competitors, creating lasting relationships, both virtual and physical is key.
Speaking of real relationships, in a recent Forbes article by Dorie Clark, author Mike Muhney shares, “People think they’re staying in touch with everybody via postings, and it’s not true. You have to have a segment you focus on [in your networking]. I can’t rely on you to follow what I put out there on Facebook or Twitter and then think I have a relationship with you.”
Yes, we do, even today, need REAL relationships. Simply adding someone to your Linkedin network isn’t creating a complete relationship connection. Getting to know your social media connections in one-to-one engagements is critical. These genuine social connections allow you to create shared experiences, greater connectivity and a personal touch that even the best social media campaign has yet to match.
How do you build a successful Village for your brand? Here are 5 key steps:
1. Create a plan. What kind of connections are important for your business? How much time per day are you going to dedicate to Relationship building? It’s critical to have a picture of who would be great members of your village before you run out and create it. Without a plan of how you plan to build your relationship circle, you are bound for failure before you even begin.
2. Understand Your Followers. Where do they spend their time? What are their interests? Just like building personal friendships, business connections are constructed in a similar way. It is important to understand the people you are connecting with in order to create genuine relationships and conversation.
3. Get Social. Diving into social media is critical in today’s developing Relationship Economy. It can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be so. Pick one social media outlet a week and create an account. Start using its features and making connections. As you get more comfortable you can begin to add additional social media networks and services and expand your relationship circles from there. Where to start? Some great starter Social media sites include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. There are literally 100’s of other social media circles which vary by geography, interest, users and more.
4. Share your Brand. Now that you have developed a plan and gotten social, it’s time to get out there and share your brand. It’s great to make new friends and meet new people, but remember, this isn’t just about being social, it’s about offering your products and services to a broader audience. So get out there and share your brand in a diligent, but not over-the-top manner.
5. Get REAL! As I said before, social media is great and the internet is amazing for building connections fast. At the same time, don’t forget to build genuine relationships in the physical and virtual world. Take the time to meet your virtual friends in the real world and don’t forget to build real connections in every day life!
*Note: If you would like to connect via twitter with my friends in the image above, click here for S. Chris Edmonds and here for Umair Khan. You can also check out Chris Edmond’s website by clicking here! He’s got a book coming out soon so check him out!