When we’re trying to get our new digital businesses off the ground, it can be easy to overlook our immediate circle. We’re tunnel visioned into driving traffic from online sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook groups, when in reality, nothing is as powerful as a face-to-face conversation in real life.
Think about it.
Most of our online end goals are to get our new connection or client on a Skype chat at some point, because it’s Internet speak for “We’re mates now.” Simply by seeing your new connection on camera, your relationship has reached a new depth. This is because we’re able to showcase our personalities on video more than we ever could through email or a blog post.
It’s as good as meeting them in a cafe for a latte.
We’re so caught up in trying to connect with like-minded people around the world via the internet that we often miss out on fruitful connections right on our doorstep. Here’s my story.
I work from home, and I have a massive coffee addiction. Most mornings, I walk down to the neighborhood produce store to grab a flat white from their cafe. Sometimes the store owner makes them, and we always chat. He chats to every single person who he makes coffee for, and most people that come in are mums or older ladies.
A few weeks ago, he asked me what I did. I was in at 9:30 on a Tuesday morning – most 20-somethings would be at work. In the 3 minutes it took to foam milk, I explained to him my transition from a freelance UX/UI designer to an e-course creator and ‘thought leader’. (Has anyone come up with a less pretentious term for this yet?!)
He was impressed.
This morning, over making my flat white, he asked for a ballpark figure to get an app developed containing recipes using the store’s produce. I gave him a very rough quote, he gave me his email, and we’re going to talk. Project born.
I don’t even do apps anymore.
Conversations with establishments and stores you visit on a regular basis can very easily turn into organic work relationships. Here’s a few examples:
1. Your neighborhood cafe
Okay, so this is my example from this morning’s story. I get coffee from them at least twice a week, and the owner knows me and what I do. They’re a very successful store and they have the funds to invest in my creative business. Don’t be afraid to talk about what creative services you provide, and ask your neighborhood cafe questions. Here are some to get started:
- Are they happy with their branding?
- How are they engaging with their customers?
- Are they coming out with a new line/product anytime soon?
2. Your gym
Some gyms are independent, others are a chain. Go about talking to them differently. It’ll be potentially easier to work with independent gyms as there wouldn’t be a higher chain of command to talk to, so get to know the owner and the gym’s needs. For gym chains, ask the gym staff who the head of marketing or press is. Get them on a phone call and introduce yourself. Keep it casual.
3. Your regular bar or restaurant
If you frequent a bar every weekend, or you’re a regular at a restaurant, chances are the staff there already know you by face. Introduce yourself and chat to the manager or owner when they have some downtime. Ask them:
- Are they using social media to engage with their loyal customers?
- Do they have a website up and running?
- Do they need new photography done of the space?