9 Surprising Things I Learned When I Met a Client In Person

My friend Erin and I enjoying the most delicious italian food and conversation.

My friend Erin and I enjoying the most delicious italian food and conversation.

I have one of those mainly-just-me-and-my-computer careers. (My 2nd career, acting, is another story--and another blog post.) On an average month my work demands that I engage with people in person four hours or less.

I, like many people these days, have clients that I've never met in person. Recently I got the chance to meet some face to face for the first time after having worked with them for several months. Connecting with them in person was so refreshing and reminded me of why the face-to-face experience simply can't be replaced by conference calls, emails or Google Hangouts.

1. Eye contact. It powerfully conveys authenticity and intentional listening. When eye contact is avoided our first instinct is to think that someone may not be trustworthy.

2. (Appropriate) physical touch. The occasional touch on a shoulder conveys warmth and amiability. Depending on your culture, this conveys a real sense of friendliness and accessibility.

3. Body language/mannerisms. Expressive gestures can contribute equally to getting a feel for someone's personality as their words do.

4. The comfort and joy of gathering around a table. Many of life's most meaningful moments are experienced when dining or drinking together. Ie Starbucks, Cheers, Thanksgiving, The Last Supper--you get the idea.

5. Veering off topic. Sometimes you just need to let conversation wander into unplanned territory. This can help people gain a better understanding of one another. This rarely happens when you're sticking to an agenda on a conference call.

6. Making a joint memory. Whether it's bearing witness to a disruptive person getting kicked out of a restaurant or simply having an excellent customer service experience from a waiter, going through an actual experience together builds camaraderie.

7. Chiming in without it being mistaken for an interruption. When adding onto something someone else has said it's often misinterpreted as interrupting if they can't see your visual cues that you agree or want to interject. When your eyes light up at something the other person says, they're less surprised that you want to add on to the conversation.

8. Shared experience helps to identify with one another. Clients, employees, contract workers, and agencies all become human when you get stuck in the same traffic, experience the same lovely 72 degree weather, and both get a free frappucino sample at the coffee shop. It's a great equalizer and reminder that after work we're all just humans.

9. Getting back to basics feels authentic. Putting technology away for an hour or two is refreshing. Taking it back old school without notifications, vibrations, and friend requests is a great opportunity to simply connect with other human beings.

Technology should be used as support for the in-person connection. After all, communication at its most basic is one person sending a message to another person. It can be done without anything Steve Jobs invented.

Does engaging with others in person make you nervous? Do you hate how technology has overtaken much of professional communication these days?

Hilary is fascinated by the intersection of social media and live experiences. She even wrote her masters thesis on it. 

5 Easy Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Business’ Social Media Presence

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It’s a given that your business needs to have a social media presence. And you’ve probably got one. But what can you do to make it just a little better today without spending a lot of extra time and energy? Here’s five tips you can implement today to improve your company’s social media presence.

1. Ask questions. Social media is about starting conversations. When was the last time your business to consumer brand asked a question of your audience online? Even on a business page, you don’t have to be “all business.” You can recognize a current event or national holiday and ask people about their plans. ie: "Anybody out there got a case of the Mondays? Comment on this post and come in before 9 AM for a free drip coffee. We want to make your week a little better."

2. Put a face with a name. When it comes to a social media presence for a small business a logo is good but a face is better. Go ahead and put an image of the owner or an employee as the profile picture for your business’ social media account. This brings accessibility and a personal touch to your online engagement.

3. Respond within 24 hours. Have you ever tried to get answers from a brand via Twitter or Facebook only to never hear from them? Not exactly sparkling customer service. Commit to responding to messages, comments and @ replies within 24 hours. The sooner the better.

4. Add photos. With the popularity of apps like Snapchat, Instagram and even the social media giant Pinterest, there’s no denying that images are everything. Post photos from time to time that exude your company culture.

5. Show some personality. Feel free to express excitement over a new product line. Post an article that has a controversial perspective on a business trend. Do anything but be all self-promotey all the time. Contribute value to the online conversation and avoid being confused for a robot.

What about you? Do you have any easy solutions for stepping up a company’s social media game?

5 Best Practices to Increase Your Happiness on Twitter

Twitter is but one of several social networks that are used by millions of people every day. If you’ve ever started to get bored with Twitter, were ready to delete your account, or wondered why people used the 140-character tool in the first place, check out these five tips for enjoying Twitter 1. Determine how you want to use it. My favorite social network is Twitter. Why? Because I follow a mix of friends, family, and thought leaders that post interesting, engaging content that is useful to me. A follow list without purpose could you leave you bored and annoyed on Twitter. But following your favorite author, magazine, or athlete could make it very exciting.

2. Utilize a source like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to make sure you don’t miss important posts. As a social media professional I use Tweetdeck to schedule posts and to follow several lists from each accounts I manage. It helps me stay organized and keep track of the content that I know our readers would want to see. Using Twitter without other applications almost guarantees that you'll be overwhelmed and that you'll miss the good stuff.

3. Utilize Buffer. This fantastic tool let’s you skip a step when it comes to scheduling posts. You can set up a schedule for when you want posts to drop and Buffer slides each post into a slot. With the Buffer button in my tool bar it’s so easy to keep the content flowing without having to stop and decide exactly what time it’s going out. Buffer is also awesome because it gives me an analytics report that tells me how each post is working. I can find out number of clicks, favorites, retweets, shares, etc.

4. Favorite tweets that you want to return to. When I’ve got a little down time and I'm scrolling through Twitter on my iPhone I don’t usually want to click away from my feed. I’d rather read a full-length article on my iPad or laptop. I primarily use my favorites as a bookmarking tool where I can go back and locate content that piqued my interest. Sometimes it’s a quote I want to recycle, sometimes it’s just a tweet that I find funny, but often it’s a link to an article that I want to read later. Favoriting an item is the way I “save for later” and it works great.

5. Interact with others. Connecting with friends, colleagues, thought leaders, and people who you admire, is one of the hands down best aspects of Twitter. Last week I had a tweet exchange with Dr. Karen Prior, the woman who wrote my favorite book of the year. I began an email exchange with Howard Sherman, the former Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing, because I engaged with him on Twitter. Twitter is no replacement for eye contact and a firm handshake but it is an unprecedented mode of connecting with people. Maximizing that opportunity is by far Twitter’s coolest feature.

What is your favorite use for Twitter? Do you find other social networks to be more useful?