Written By:  Derrick Barber, Website Developer and Online Entrepreneur, LOWD Media and Textbookexchange.ca, London, Ontario

At LOWD Media, I frequently work with small business owners who know it is time to create an improved website that ranks better in search. However, finding the time to collaborate on such a project takes an investment of time, which entrepreneurs are often short of. That’s why I always try to respect my clients time the best I can. As a result, I rarely have personal conversations with my clients. Usually discussions are as focused as possible to help achieve our goals in the least amount of time. With that said, I occasionally get the pleasure of talking to a client about something more personal.

Recently, I was speaking to one of my clients who found herself single in her 40s, and she expressed how unusual dating is as a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t been in the dating scene in over 15 years. As someone who had been in the dating world around two years ago, I could empathize with her situation. What started to become clear from chatting with her is that there are actually best practices in dating that also apply to growing a business.

You need to create a positive reputation amongst your peers

Call it old fashioned, but landing a date can still start with the opinion of your peers. If your friends and family think you would make a good catch for someone, they may be willing to introduce you to their friend.

Similarly in business, you want to make a good impression amongst your peers to generate word-of-mouth. As future customers can’t immediately make a judgement on the quality of the product you offer, or the service you provide, you must create a positive reputation in other ways. For example, if your target market is on Facebook, you can provide value to them with interesting and entertaining posts that showcase your expertise. You can also create a personality for your business through the tone of the posts you write. Showcase to your peers that you’re a great listener by providing thoughtful replies to comments left on your Facebook page.

You need to make a good first impression with your appearance

When dating, most people make an initial judgement based on what they see. Looks and appearance isn’t everything when dating, but making a good visual impression starts things off on the right foot.

While building a genuine relationship with present and future customers is much more than appearance, making a good impression is certainly a great place to start. What first impression does your website and social media presence provide? Does it make a good visual impression? Does the content supplement the visual impression and intrigue your current and future customers to stay in touch?

You need to be loyal & trustworthy

As trust is the foundation of a strong relationship, you simply must be a loyal, trustworthy person if you are hoping to date and eventually end up in a long-term relationship with a great partner.

Trustworthiness is a difficult trait to showcase as a business, but it can be done. You must get creative and think how you can create digital evidence of trustworthiness. In addition to showcasing your expertise via blogging and posting to social media, I find using social proof is a great way to showcase trustworthiness. It’s one thing to tell others you are a business owner of integrity who deserves trust, but it’s another thing when others vouch for you by writing you a positive review, or even better recording a video testimonial for you.

You need to practice active listening

When it comes to dating, being able and willing to actively listen to your partner is important. It allows you to learn more about the person you are dating & you’ll get to know more about how to fulfill their needs. It is also a simple way to showcase you actually care about ensuring both your needs & the needs of your partner are being met, which is a highly desired trait in a long term relationship.

Similarly, actively listening to your current and future customers is important. Good content marketing and in-particular, social media, should ideally be less about you and your business and more about listening to your followers, and delivering more of what they love the most. They are supporting you and your business by taking time out of their day (on occasion) to hear what you have to say. Reciprocating this by asking questions and listening to their comments will help you fulfill their needs as well.

Jennifer Powell from Toronto digital marketing agency Heart & Galla says:

Many businesses make the mistake of simply broadcasting deals and sales all the time. We always look at it in whether we would want to date you. If you come and introduce yourself to me at a party and all you say is “Buy my stuff”, “I have stuff for sale”, “Buy my stuff”…I will think you are a bore and walk away. If you take my name and email and then constantly spam me with newsletters, I feel like you are using me as a customer. Make me intrigued by who you are as a business & most especially make me feel valued & respected as a customer.”

Don’t go all the way

In order to give someone incentive to see you again, resist temptation to seal the deal on the first date. While this may provide a gratifying experience, it will reduce your date’s likelihood of wanting to get together again.

In business, you must understand that earning the business of a quality customer often involves some work. While frequently asking for the sale may actually lead to a temporary increase in business, you will also decrease the chances of creating an experience that will lead to long term customers and referrals. Learn to nourish your customers by being digitally present where they are, and making their life better, as a whole. Provide your target market with the opportunity to get to know you, at a pace they are comfortable with. Over time, showcase your personality and knowledge and this will increase your chances of attracting long term customers who will be most likely to advocate for you and your business to others, and send referrals your way.

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that both dating and business have at least one similarity. They are both about putting effort into creating value in the life of someone else. After knowing that, it all comes down to your decision on whether the effort is worth the desired outcome—a great, mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

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