by Cara Lumen
All business is driven by interpersonal relationships. Whether it’s the helpful, cheerful grocery clerk, the patient, positive customer service representative, or the knowledgeable tech support person who can explain it so you understand it, we are all drawn to the people that give us the most positive experience and the best results.
In your business, that should be you.
How are you with people?
OK, you’ve decided you are ready to start an online business, now what? Since you ARE your business it will look a lot like you. Look at your life and see how you naturally relate to others. Are you one of those magical people that everyone loves to be around? Are you a wise, knowledgeable person that people seek for answers, are you an advice giver, a party giver, a 1:1 type of person? Are you a loner? Are you shy? Are you adventurous or conservative? How you naturally relate to others is a good place to start building the community you want to serve. Become aware of both your strengths and weaknesses in your relationships. You will build your business to take advantage of both.
It’s not about selling, it’s about serving
The ordinary standard for a successful business is how much you earn. I think the standard for a successful business is how well you serve, how many lives you change. So the first thing you want to do in developing your online business is to 1) decide on who you want to serve and 2) decide what you can and are willing to do for them.
Who do you want to invite into your community?
The old way of marketing is on the wane. A new, gentler, more connected form of interaction is emerging. We get to choose who we want to serve, who we want to interact with, who we want to help succeed. You’ll hear that called a “niche” but the new term is “community.” Feel what a difference that term makes in what you will do and how you will do it.
Another term I could do without is “Target Audience”. It sounds like we are going hunting. I like to think of it as “Interest Groups.” You are starting an interest group, a community of people who are interested in your topic. And that interest group will have specific needs, a specific vocabulary, and a particular way they like to be approached. The more clearly you are able to address that, the more people will recognize you as someone they want to connect with.
My interest group is made up of primarily boomer women who need or want to start a business for themselves and don’t know where to start. They want to help others, they are willing to learn, and they often have some business background they are ready to translate into a new online business. They are passionate about what they want to offer. Those are the people that make up my community, the ones who read my posts, and take my courses and come to me for coaching.
And the more I tune into them the easier it is for me to see what they need. I get to watch what is changing around them; I get to think about what is keeping them awake at night. Then I can decide how or if I would like to help them solve that problem.
See how gentle and organic this is?
Attract the people you are meant to serve
We are not meant to serve everyone, but the people we are to serve need us and it’s our job to help them find us. And once they do, we want to take care of them. And like any group of friends, they will ultimately call on us for our service or products and they will refer their friends to us. And suddenly, we are surrounded by like-minded people who need and want what we have to offer.
Go where your interest group is and hold up a big invitation
Now you know who you want to serve, you know what you want to offer them, but they don’t even know you exist. You have to go out and lay markers on the trail so they can find you. You have to invite them to come join your community. This can mean things like a web site that explains what you do, a blog that writes about what you think and know about your topic, a radio show that can be a commentary format or an interview format that offers your target audience insights and entertainment. It can be article submissions or teleclasses, or signature products like ebooks and audio books. It can be about going to networking groups, joining online communities, posting comments on blogs and forming collaborative partnerships. The type of invitation markers you lay on the trail depends on you and your talents and the interests of the people you serve.
Loyalty is priceless
Did you know that 80% of your sales will come from 20% of the people connected with you? That group of people are tuned into what you offer, they want to know and hear what you are saying and teaching and doing. They trust you. And they are ready to purchase from you. When you design your outreach material, your forms of invitation, fashion them for the people you can best serve. Once they have come into your community keep serving them well. Referrals are the best form of community building. And referrals come from positive interactions and great results.
Where do you start?
Begin with who you are and what you love. Start talking about your topic and writing about it and offering services around it. Get excited about it and share your thrill at how you are in service. That’s contagious. And as people begin to gather around you, take good care of them. Listen to them, be ready to anticipate or respond to their changing needs. Design new ways to serve them. Think of yourself as a valuable member of a global tribe – you serve those who need you and support them in their well-being. Build your online business with positive experiences and great results.
This is Part 2 of the How to Build an Online Business Series
© 2010 Cara Lumen