I believe that growing a successful and purpose-based business is about more than numbers. It's about creating a space where others can come to find truly helpful, kind, grace-filled content and connection.
Your purpose must be more than making more money or getting new followers.
In the internet age, where trolls abound and anyone can post, follow, comment, and like, it's important to create genuine relationships with people. As we all engage and socialize (if you can really call it that) more and more through technology, people have become desperate for human connection.
In the world of big, faceless business, people want to work with someone they know and trust. And to be successful, you need to become one of those people.
It's about more than the numbers: it's about the people behind those numbers and the truly successful businesses and brands know that.
Create a sense of community and connection.
So how do you connect more personally when you're busy running your business and just trying to keep up? Set aside some time each day or each week to engage with the people following you.
- Respond to comments. All of them. If someone has taken the time to write a comment, whether it's on your blog, Instagram, or somewhere else, they're truly interested and invested. Respond to them with an answer that shows that you cared enough to check them out and create a unique reply.
- Thank your followers. This is mostly for Twitter, where you can send a quick "thank you" tweet. Don't set up an auto-responder, but actually take the time to look at their feed or check out their website. After all, you only need to write 140 characters.
- Join groups + actually contribute: Many Facebook groups have a set of rules that limits self-promotion. Follow these. When you see a question you can answer, craft a helpful reply. If you have a question, go ahead and ask (and be sure to thank the people who answered).
- Respond to emails: Even if someone is pitching something you're not interested in (unless you state on your website that you don't do that sort of thing). If someone took the time to write an email with a question, a thank you, or just to say hi, it means that you mean something to them. Write back and please write something more than just a canned response.
- Comment on blog posts: When you read a blog post you enjoyed, leave a comment. It's great way to start engaging with people you admire.
- Provide compliments with your critiques: This really holds true in Facebook groups, but you should really do this any time you're offering a critique or advice, whether someone has asked for it or not. People are a lot more open to you if you point out some positives as well as things they could improve.
- Answer questions in your field: I believe that there's enough work and money to go around. Don't be afraid to give away stuff for free or to answer questions that you might normally get paid for. If you're being helpful and sharing your knowledge, people are going to see you as an expert.
- Follow the rules: Read them and stick to them. And don't get upset if you break them and have to deal with the consequences.
- Be kind: People don't really want to hear that you hate their work or that they made a stupid decision. And you won't look good if you're constantly putting others down.
- Treat people as friends, not future sales: It drives me crazy when every email I receive from someone is a sales pitch. People know that you have to make a sale to earn money and keep working, but make sure you're doing more than just pitching. Let people know what you have to offer without pressure and then move on. If someone is going to buy from you, it will happen.
- Never be afraid to let someone new in: Everyone online is working hard to make their dreams come true. Don't limit yourself to the people you're already collaborating or working with. New people bring a fresh point of view and they just may be the next big name online. And if you are that new person trying to break in, reach out. If you're struggling to find your "tribe" or people to collaborate with, go out and make your own group.
- Be yourself: This is probably the most important point. Sure, business and engagement may push you outside of your comfort zone, but that doesn't mean you need to put on a false front. Be as open and authentic as you can be and always stay true to your values.
Now, go out and make some new online connections. Be brave, be open, and be kind.
Tell Me, How do you engage online?