These days, when someone mentions “face time,” we immediately think of that convenient iPhone feature that enables us to do video conferencing, just like the Jetsons. But when it comes to marketing, it has a more traditional meaning – good old-fashioned meet-and-greets, pressing the flesh, and socializing.
Despite the technological accomplishments and integrations of the last few years, where we meet virtually for hearings, depositions, mediations, meetings, and even social functions, there is no replacement for face-to-face interactions. The growth of virtual get-togethers has given us a greater appreciation for the benefits of getting together.
One benefit of social connections is shared experiences. Shared experiences are very powerful ways of building human connections.
Think about those with whom you shared emotionally significant events – your first team sport, starting college, boot camp, sorority or fraternity rush and pledging, law school. You have special bonds with those who shared those experiences. While those bonds are stronger, every personally shared experience has, to some degree, the same effect and impact.
Social interactions energize some people, while others are exhausted by them. Regardless of how they make you feel, they must be done.
If you don’t find yourself seeking them out, you must plan to engage in them lest they won’t be done. They are just as important as any other marketing effort or task. They must be planned and carried out strategically for those who aren’t natural socializers.
What types of social interactions are we talking about?
You name it – from one-on-one luncheons to large conferences. Look for opportunities where potential clients and potential referral sources will be gathered. For one-on-one meetings, plan them. Make a strategic list of people with whom you should spend some time. Plan for coffee, lunch, or a lengthier experience – a sports outing, a show, or seats at a table of some charitable event.
Once there, your presence is important, but so are the interactions.
This isn’t the time to do any big push, ask, or sales pitch. It also isn’t the time for you to continuously check your phone. Engage in active and empathetic listening. This involves asking questions, giving feedback indicating that you hear what the other is saying, and finding connections. Great conversationalists are great listeners. Think about those you know. Watch them. There is an art and a skill to making conversation, and listening plays a large role. You don’t do it naturally? That’s okay. These are skills that can be learned and practiced.