Lafayette, my favourite bar in The Hague, is nothing special really. Same beer as everyone else. Decent food. Nothing special. Except for one thing.
Each time I enter, every member of staff makes eye contact and smiles or nods. Each time I stand to leave, or walk to the bar, a member of staff acknowledges me. It can be as little a gesture as a blink in my direction, but every time I am there, I feel included. Acknowledged. Comfortable: in good hands.
People only use open gestures when they’re relaxed, secure, and confident. It engenders trust. That’s got to be a pretty good way to start a relationship with a potential customer.
So how can we use those open gestures in the social web? Think Twitter, for example. Before demanding people ‘look at this’, ‘go here’, ‘visit this’, or ‘buy this’ try acknowledging them. Say hi. Listen to what they have to say, and then maybe point them towards some useful or valuable free content. Other people they might want to connect with. Do it again. Now you are starting to engage them, maybe you can think about directing them to your own product or service.
It may take a little longer, but when a customer feels in good hands, when he trusts you, he is the easiest sell in the world. I’m off to Lafayette now. Catch you later.