Do You Have Customers or Friends?

In business as in personal life we know that we should stay in touch with people.  The old saying “Out of sight, out of mind” is really true.  That’s why it’s an old saying.  We do forget about people that we don’t see or hear from frequently.  In a more and more hyper-competitive, over-caffeinated, Crackberry, 24/7/365 world it’s easy to lose touch with people and most people do. 

Many people are looking for ways to keep their name or their company’s name in front of people.  My simple philosophy on this is “Be a friend.”  Now before you think this is some starry-eyed, kumbaya, group hug post let me point out something.  For the seriously jaded folks that think “we just have to keep pitching our product or services all the time”…how’s that working out?  I’m guessing not so good.  What’s that definition of insanity again?  “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  There’s a simple way to test this.  How much repeat business are you doing with your customers and how many referrals are you receiving from your customers? 

Friends stay in touch with friends.  Hence the term “friend.”  Businesses that convert customers to friends have a huge advantage over businesses that just have customers.  Friends take a few extra seconds to do things that non-friends don’t do.  Like taking a sincere interest in people.  Like remembering people’s birthdays.  Like remembering kids’ names.  Like sharing information with people that you know they will appreciate. 

Dale Carnegie said a long time ago, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”  It was true in the 1930’s and it’s still true now.  If the world is still around in 1000 years it will be true then also.  That’s why it’s a principle.  Not a “technique-of-the-month.”

Invest time in learning about the people you business with.  Take a few extra seconds to ask about them about their lives.  You may learn something important to them.  And then figure out ways to add value to them.  Only every day.  Make it a goal to add unexpected value to at least three people a day.  And then up it to ten.  “But, Kev.  I don’t have time to do that.”  Everyone has 86,4000 seconds in their day.  Some people invest all of their seconds in themselves and the more successful  people invest some of them in others. 

Make friends.  Realize that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.  The world is full of your friends.  What are you waiting for?  Smile, extend your hand in friendship and let people know that you appreciate them.  Don’t just tell them, show them.  Do the things that friends do.  If you don’t, how will they know that they’re your friend and not just your customer?

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