A various times, the business world gets all jazzed about certain topics. Social media was one, big data was another and engagement is the latest.
Engagement and Relationship
Engagement is a good word. It gets us closer to the spirit of commercial interactions but let’s break it down so we know what we’re actually talking about.
Engagement has a lot of definitions (and connotations) – put a ring on it; posts in social media that show a disproportionate level of interest by an audience; and, Tuning In.
I found a great definition of engagement while I studied brand-consumer relationships that will guide how I use it,
“engagement is the result of strong, two-way relationships between two sides” ~Susan Fournier, Boston University
There is highly relational and reflective aspect of the connection we have with our customers/clients (and they with us).
For those who hold a 1:1 connection with their customers (like Solopreneurs) the human element – that is, the customer relationship – becomes a strategic business advantage that enables us to thrive tomorrow more than we are today.
The Relational Aspect
Think of the last time you had to call a plumber in.
Did you call a trusted resource or did you use someone, whom a friend referred? Maybe you did neither but went online and did a search for someone nearby. Unless you knew the person you were going to be looking for, something almost undefinable drove your decision – something you could relate to.
Dr. Stephen Covey refers to this ability we have to select ‘our people’ as the intersection between character and competency, and it is at the heart of relationships, inside business & beyond.
In The Human Brand, Chris Malone suggested the dimensions were warmth and competency.
Now, depending on your scenario, you may not have had the luxury of ‘trying’ anything; a leaking dishwasher just needs to be fixed, and really you’re motivation was competency.
But what if you decide that you’re going to replace the dishwasher?
Now, you have the potential of bringing in one or two plumbers to see who you feel is going to ‘be the right fit’ for your project. “Fit” might be defined by who is going to respect your home or who is going to do the work well and not gouge you on the replacement – character and warmth.
But it is different for everyone and that’s where it gets really fun!
WATCH THE FOUR PART SERIES: The Relationship Triangle – BUSINESS • OWNER • CUSTOMER
If you’re NOT ‘having fun’ within your customer relationships, with the work of the business or with how the business is sustaining a life 360…chances something is out of alignment with the Relationship Triangle and it’s one of three really simple ways we RECALIBRATE a SOLO Business for more.
The Reflective Aspect
Turn your thoughts to any relationship in your life right now.
You will be able to place that relationship in pretty specific places on seven different dimensions as developed by my favourite researcher, Susan Fournier (Boston University).
Each of these dimensions will describe what we see reflected in each type of relationship (eg. best friend, committed partner and so on) – she would say there are universal ‘dimsensions’ that show up for everyone with a best friend, committed partner etc., and yet, what’s important to US — is wholly unique.
The connections we have with our customers (and they with us) becomes our ‘strategic advantage’ when we gain clarity around these dimensions – for us and for them. What we want to be reflected in the experience and the overlap in what THEY want reflected.
As we shift our paradigm and see that Role and Purpose of Business and our business is to create the experience of more, for us and for our customers; these dimensions serve to guide what the relationship needs to look and feel like on both sides and where the middle ground is.
The Relationship with ‘Relationships’.
For some Solopreneurs ‘relating’ feels natural & intuitive, which is great!
But if you’re like me, relationship and business got disconnected. Especially if you have come out of (or are in) a version of Business looks and feels like The Hunger Games™.
If it doesn’t feel ‘natural or intuitive’ it’s because inside The Arena, relationships are:
1 – a liability;
2 – taken out of the mix completely, or
3 – downplayed or distorted as a means to an end.
Trading The Hunger Games of Business for something more typically takes Tributes and Survivors longer to see and embody how creating relationships that last is a game-changer.
But it is the a ‘master’ move to becoming a Victor.