I walked into a bank for the first time in years yesterday…
You see, I tend to look at banking as a line item on my checklist and all I want to do is check it off in the most efficient way possible. Walking in and waiting in line to complete a financial transaction is not efficient in my eyes. So, I’ve spent years becoming really good at online banking, frequenting ATMs and calling 800 numbers to answer any questions I may have. And I’ve been very happy. But yesterday, I had to set up an account that I was unsure how to structure and because my boyfriend goes to the same bank, I figured I’d tag along and do everything I needed to while I was there. (Side note: my boyfriend is the exact opposite of me when it comes to banking. When we walked into the bank, he was greeted by a symphony of hellos from the employees who obviously knew him well. And when he pulled out checks he wanted to deposit, my mouth dropped out of shock as I asked, “you don’t deposit those at the ATM?” He laughed when I later commented, “Wow…you’re so old school!”)
We sat down at a desk across from one of the Account Managers (who my boyfriend was talking to about movies, just as they did every time he came in) and I immediately began asking the questions I needed answered in order to open the account appropriately. Though the gentleman answered kindly and knowledgeably, you could tell I had caught him a little off guard in my forwardness. My boyfriend sensed the discomfort and jumped into the conversation with more movie talk. I sat back and surrendered to the situation: I was in a “belly to belly” situation here…I needed to play the game of relationship building in order to get my needs met.
This situation got me thinking…as we’re deep into the age of the Internet, just how important are those “belly to belly” situations?
The Internet has changed the game for all of us business owners and here’s why:
1) You now have access to a Global market.
2) The playing field has leveled (you have the same resources at your fingertips as giant corporations).
3) The point of entry is a comparatively cheap (you don’t have to have a $1 million marketing budget to get the word out about your company).
This boils down to the fact that you and your business have great potential to hit it big. The trick to the Internet game, however, is learning to use this “global” tool to make your audience feel intimate and local. With the advent of Web 2.0 and Social Media (interactive and user-centered experiences), out of touch, non-interactive and static websites are quickly losing business to their connected, interactive counterparts. All this being said, it is still about being in touch with what your customers want so you can offer it to them when they need it.
One of the biggest complaints about the Internet is that it’s allowing us to become way too disconnected and out of touch with one another. Even though Web 2.0 answers that issue with its interactivity (c’mon…how cool is it that I can know exactly what my college roommate is up to on a daily basis when I get onto Facebook?), it’s vital that as a business owner, you never lose touch with the foundation of those “belly to belly” interactions that may feed your business.
There are two kinds of business people out there: those who love to network and those who loathe it. A few of us fall smack dab in the middle…we know it’s vital to business so we do it, and we enjoy it just enough to continue with it at our own pace. No matter where you are on the networking spectrum, it’s imperative for you to accept the fact that those in-person interactions are the best places to not only build relationships with clients, but also build relationships with business allies who can elevate your own game.
The bottom line is that in order to thrive in business today (let’s be honest, none of us want to “survive”…we want to thrive!), you must utilize the tools around you – from the “old school” ways of belly to belly relationships to the new ways of the interactive online world.
Even though I was frustrated sitting in the bank for an entire hour, I was thrilled when I downloaded the iPhone app that keeps me digitally connected to the accounts I had just set up. I recognized in that moment that this bank had done an amazing job marketing. They knew they had a world of customers just like me, who wanted to be “left alone” to do my banking business (just give me the tools and I’ll do it fast!). And they also knew they needed to service people like my boyfriend, who wanted to know everyone’s name and make every transaction in an actual banking facility. All they did was make sure to have their services and products available in ways that appealed to us both.
So, what do your clients want? How do they want to have access to it? How are you integrating your “belly to belly” interactions with those of your online presence?
Katie Krienitz is the Chief Operations Officer for The Wealth Building Annex (http://TheWealthBuildingAnnex.com), a mastermind and resource community for Entrepreneurs. She’s also a Relationship Author who sells her book online. You can find out more about Katie at http://KatieKrienitz.com or http://MyTrueLoveTV.com.