To Build Real Relationships, Tell Your Company’s Story

What makes your closest friends, well… your closest friends? In the ever-widening sea of people you encounter in person and online, what makes some people more important to you than others?

What about your best friend, your partner, and your family? Why do they all mean so much to you?

The full answer is a long list, but two elements make some relationships more important than others: shared experiences and familiarity.

In short, you relate strongly to other people because you have things and events in common. Those people stand out to you because you know that you have things and events in common. The more open you are with those people, the stronger and more quickly that bond develops.

When you share your story, there’s something to grab onto -- and that same force is what drives clients and customers to buy and come back for more.

What’s Your Company’s Story?

Whether it’s a century-old family business or a brand new startup, every company has a story. Where’d the idea come from? What trials and tribulations did you go through to be where you are now? Who was involved, and how did they get there?

The possibilities are nearly endless. The important part is that you open yourself and your business up to your customers and the community so they can get to know who you are.

When video bloggers (“vloggers”) first appeared on YouTube, there was no shortage of critics who opined that no one was interested in a non-celebrity sharing their personal stories to an undefined audience. Who cares?

Hundreds of millions, it turns out. As vloggers opened up their lives to viewers, they found that people got to know them. That familiarity with the vlogger’s life meant subscribers were invested in the relationship and had shared knowledge to work from with each new video.

If your company had a vlog, what would it say about itself?

Embrace Openness, Even If It’s Hard

Just like with friends and family, you’re close because you know more about each other than what other people know. That only happens when someone -- or in our case, a company -- opens themselves up.

And yes, it can be hard. You only want to present the very best all the time… but people aren’t dumb. They know that’s not reality, not in personal lives, careers, or companies. Reality has some struggles, some obstacles, and some limitations.

Now, you don’t want to lay bare every difficulty you’ve ever had right from the beginning. That level of openness has to be appropriate just as you’d behave in a personal relationship. But you do want to be real. Real is what builds relationships.

Weave Your Story into as Much As You Can… Subtly

You’ve thought about your company’s story and you’ve committed to a reasonable level of openness. Now what?

Well, you tell that story as often as possible in as many places as possible. Kinda.

We’ve talked a lot about sales, and successful selling is about someone wanting to buy in. You know people who talk about themselves constantly. You also know the result there; you don’t want to be like them.

But your company should add a personal, open approach as frequently as it can when and where it’s appropriate. Marketing materials, client meetings, and websites can all be tweaked to add elements of your story without being overbearing. Dropping in tidbits of openness and of your company’s personality can demonstrate authenticity to your clients and give them something on which they can build a relationship that matters to them.

Rodney Steele