If you provide services virtually you’ve been enjoying the surge in cloud storage, virtual offices and mobile warrior-ism. Wise virtual professionals will also prepare themselves for the eventual ‘backlash’ of all of this virtual love.
Things tend to move in pretty dependable cycles. Something new is invented or discovered, the trendsetters discover it and suddenly it becomes wildly popular. Soon it’s everywhere, a household word (or product). Other similar [items, products, services] are produced and offered to jump on the bandwagon. To the point of overload. Then someone starts to point out negative aspects. More and more people start to share their negative experiences. Maybe a health risk is involved. And suddenly yesterday’s must have is today’s has been.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take one example. Bacon. (Yeah, I like using bacon as an example). My grandparents most likely grew up eating plenty of bacon. Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Bacon in their baked beans, bacon in their corn chowder, BLT’s…you get the idea. And then someone pointed out that bacon was primarily pork fat. As the ideal body image moved from Marilyn Monroe to Twiggy we became painfully aware of our weight. Pork fat was not a diet food. By the time I was a teen, bacon was something we felt guilty about indulging in. (Along with real butter and a lot of other things). We ate faux foods labeled diet, fat free and 0 calories. And then we discovered Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network. Studies came out that proved that all of those so-called diet foods weren’t really all that good for you. More and more people started sharing that you could be healthy and still eat …bacon. And now…well bacon is everywhere. Bacon cupcakes, chocolate covered bacon, even bacon restaurants.
The pendulum has swung wildly, just in my lifetime.
Those of us whose businesses have gained the benefit of the current home office/mobile warrior/cloud office popularity would be wise to consider that at some point that pendulum is going to affect us. And it would be even wiser to prepare for it. But how?
After all if we’re virtual service providers and all of a sudden the lack of face to face human interaction becomes a huge issue, what can we do?
We remind our clients and everyone else that we are real, living, breathing human beings. And here are some ways we can do just that:
- Use pictures- on your website, on your social media profiles and in your instagram feed. Let them connect a face with your business.
- Let them hear your voice- audio posts, videos or simply doing an initial consult call not only reinforces that you’re not Siri, it gives people a little peek into your personality.
- Let them see you smile- Those pictures your sharing? Smile…the same way you would if you met people in person.
- Attend live events- if the opportunity arises to attend a conference, seminar or event show up and meet people face to face
- Snail Mail connects- Believe it or not, your handwritten notes also reinforces that you’re a living, breathing person.
- Get a little personal- Letting people know you watch Dr. Who, run marathons or have a chocolate addiction are all little ways of reminding them that you’re like them…a real person.
- Give a little gift- giving small gifts to clients shows them how much you appreciate them. We like to do business with people who appreciate us.
- Meet for coffee (or an adult beverage)- If you’re lucky enough to live near some of your clients, go ahead and meet up for coffee, lunch or even a happy hour drink. Reinforce the fact that while your services are provided virtually, you’re for real.
And finally (9) making a very clear distinction between you as a real person and things like Siri may seem minor at the moment when the public is so open to all things virtual. But when the backlash comes, and it will, the more human you’ve become in others minds, the less chance they’ll turn their back on you in favor of that old fashioned in office employee.