Tuesday, July 19, 2011

5 key habits to supercharge your engaging skills

It is a known fact that engaging your customer is critical to the success of your social media efforts.  It's the human side of the equation, regardless of which social media tool(s) you decide to use.  With that in mind, I decided to break down a few simple habits which, when practiced consistently, should increase your level of engagement substantially.

Although the habits listed below are proven to be effective IRL, they can be used just as effectively in your online interactions as well.  The habits are listed in no particular order, they are all powerful, yet simple to apply.  Ready?  Here we go!

  • Be curious - This should automatically be your mindset whenever you're looking to engage someone.  Not only does it put you in an inquisitive frame of mind, it also prepares you for opportunities that may arise during the interaction.  People can sense when you're genuinely curious and interested in what they have to say, even online, which puts them at ease and encourages them to open up.  Just remember your ABC's, "Always Be Curious".  
  • Learn to ask the right questions - The goal here is to interact with your customers, not to interrogate them.  People love to talk about themselves and their experiences, so make sure that your open-ended questions are relevant to your audience.  Great questions get people thinking and help propel the conversation.  Regular tweets, for example, provide a great opportunity to practice this habit and helps to embed your brand in your audiences mind. 
  • Listen - With all the noise from various social media platforms, this is probably the toughest habit on the list.  Getting your customer to interact with you is no easy task to begin with, so when your customer responds, you want to listen.  Learn to develop active listening skills by asking clarifying questions and repeating back what you heard.  This is more important in social media, where misunderstandings can easily arise due to the absence of nonverbal cues.  Also, people can be reluctant to share a problem or issue with you, so listening to what isn't being said is just as critical.  
  • Keep an open mind - It's human nature to judge, be quick to dismiss, or assume.  If you're compelled to give in to human nature, take this as an opportunity to add to your knowledge base by staying open to unexpected ideas.  I have learned that people don't always respond the way that I expect them to, or share the same opinions as I have.  These instances provide a great opportunity for me to enjoy a different point of view.  Oftentimes, it's after being able to suspend judgment that I'm better able to understand the reason for the disparity of opinions.  
  • Be grateful - There are a lot of things that have to be right for a customer to be willing to open up and interact with you.  Honestly, they're not obligated to do so.  The fact that they're willing to take time out of their day and interact with you, giving you feedback, is something that every company should be grateful for.  Always show gratitude in all your interactions.  It doesn't cost anything extra, it adds value to the interaction, and it brings good karma.  What are some creative ways that you show or express gratitude to your customers?   

    Oftentimes, we get caught up in the headlines touting the newest tech gadget, social network, app, etc., that we push aside the human element in it all.  It's good to step back occasionally and remind ourselves that the endgame here is still to interact with people.  These 5 habits have helped me in my own personal journey.  

    What are some of the habits you rely on when engaging your audience? 


      1. Great post, Randy!

        I can really relate with each of your "engagement habits." One habit I rely on is to "check my perception." I find that I don't always completely understand what the other person means and so I like to check with them to make sure I understand. Such as "it sounds like you value the "soft skills" of engagement as well as the technical skills needed to adeptly perform social media management - is that right?" I find that I learn a lot from "checking my perception." Often I didn't understand the other person as well as I thought I did. This technique helps me slow down and really listen. Which, of course, is one of your success habits. :-) Excellent post. Thanks for sharing it!

      2. How right you are Randy and these can be used almost everywhere in a person's life. Once the habits above are instilled habits, a person can be successful at most anything.

        Great post.

      3. Randy, Nice article! Too many times we rush straight through trying to make our point and forget to engage in an actual conversation. To do this I want to highlight from your list to always be appreciative. There's something about a simple thank you...it draws me in.

        Thanks again Randy!

      4. Thanks, Linda! Funny how a lot of the success principles in life are applicable to social media as well.

      5. Redfox, it's great to know that gratitude and appreciation have not completely gone out of style! Thanks loads for chiming in and for your input!