Monday, November 3, 2008

Caring for Clients...Online.

Hi, everyone. This week's blog is listed below. Here are some key advice points for those of you on the go:

Key Points:
  1. Our work online isn't just to help ourselves, it is to help others.
  2. Refer others while e-mailing people
  3. Use websites like Facebook and LinkedIN to keep in touch with, and help your network of friends, family and business associates
  4. Use your website as an advice forum to give others knowledge
  5. Send e-cards or SendOutCards to people that are in need of consolation
  6. Link your website to others...they will reciprocate.
  7. These are only a few of the things we can do - but the point is to care for those we interact with online.
Caring for Clients...Online.

So I was just reading a great article in Success Magazine from Mr. Televangelist himself, Joel Osteen. While sometimes he migrates into cheesyland, I do have to say that nine times out of ten he has really good, sound advice that we as individuals, friends, family members and of course business owners can use in the ongoings of our daily lives. As a matter of fact I went to see him once at Madison Square Garden, and I have to say he really reaches out to people on a very good-hearted level. In short, he cares.

The Success Magazine article - click here to read an excerpt - was from my friend Leah Rosen of In it, Joel discusses the "energy" that we send out to people ultimately comes back to us. Some things that stuck out in the article to me:
  • A teacher that worked for a tough inner city school lent one of her most troubled students $100 so that he could pay off his loan from a street gang. The stipulation: he had to pay it back at his graduation. The young man in turn worked hard and indeed made it to graduation, citing his teacher's faith in him as a prime motivator.
  • A young boy fell down a steep slope and started yelling for help. Every time he yelled "help", he heard another voice yelling back to him "help". He started insulting the voice as a coward for not rescuing him, and the voice responded back in kind. Later when his Dad ultimately found and rescued him, the boy found that the voice was only his own echo...but also a metaphor for life - what we send out comes back to us.
  • Rule: "You never bring out the best in someone by criticizing, condemning, or verbally beating down a person. You bring out the best by love. You bring out the best by showing people you care."
  • The final sentence of the article "If you make someone else's day, God will make yours."
The relevance to what we do online is simple. Every time we log onto our e-mail, someone else's website, Facebook, LinkedIN, ProMetroNet or other places where we interact with our business community, friends and family, we can be focusing on more than just trying to get more bang for the buck. Sure, we all need to survive by pulling in our daily bread, but at the same time we can be finding opportunities to assist people with the knowledge that we have as business owners to better other people's lives.

Several business owner friends of mine that just started a blog at the same time asked me what they should write about. I suggested they write about things that they are passionate about in their industry. Upon further reflection, I realize that I was only partially correct. The truth is we should be writing about the things that will help other people to live better lives. And like the advice in the article I mentioned, what you put out there will ultimately come back in kind.

Some tangible steps for taking care of your clients online:
  1. Whenever you are reading through your e-mails, keep in mind the other trusted associates in your network that could possibly help solve some of your client's problems. I recently referred a client with a business plan question to my good friend Mark Cohen of PerformanceStream. While I may have been able to help the person myself, I realized that I couldn't do it as well as Mark ultimately did. The client was thankful, and so was Mark.
  2. If you are on Facebook or LinkedIN, take interest in the stories of your friends network, and reach out to them with geniuine commentary when they are happy, sad or need help. I like the Guiliani rule: "Weddings are optional, but funerals are mandatory." This means that when someone needs consolation, you should be one of the consolers.
  3. On your website, run an advice forum that allows people to ask questions of you or your business. You can accomplish this with a simple contact form, and update your website from time to time with your answers to those questions.
  4. When someone is having a difficult time, consider sending them an e-card, or a SendOutCard. In addition to your consistent marketing efforts (you are marketing, right? :-) it is an added way of telling someone that you care about them. By the way, while we all need to prioritize our most monetarily lucrative clients to get the job done, that is no excuse to neglect those that are just starting out or struggling in their businesses. As a matter of fact they need your help the most. Thusly, devote time to also helping those in the middle, or even the bottom of your list. A very wise carpenter once said "The least shall be first". (paraphrased, of course)
  5. Link your website to those in your network whom you trust. The more links that go to a person's website, the more likely their rankings will rise significantly in major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Also create links to articles from your friends that blog.
While all of this prompts most to respond who the heck has time to do all this, I say YOU. Every success guru out there, including Joel Osteen has said that if we focus time on the most important things, they will get done. (As a matter of fact I just got an e-mail reminding me that God isn't just about Sunday mass - for which I am terribily guilty.) But what I'm trying to say is that if we are taking the time and energy to impart our online wisdom to others that need it the most (even if they can't give us anything back right now), we will ultimately see a significant return in the web-based components of our business.

Just from a logical point of view, if we are putting more information our there for people to benefit from, search engines, social networking groups, web browsers, blog readers and e-mail recipients will start to pay more attention to us. That's not a bad return for the 15 minutes* a day we're spending helping others, is it?

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

* 15 minutes, minimum people!

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