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The Virtual Handshake

Marko Greitschus / pixelio.de

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a little pub. Nothing special. Nothing glamorous. Just a comfortable meeting point for friends or business partners to catch up for a drink. The best day always was the “market day”. Merchants were setting up their booths at the marketplace in the little village my grandparents were living in, early in the morning when most people were still snoring in their beds. When their job was done, they popped up at the pub around 7am when their wives took over to sell their goods.

The guests in the pub did not expect very much. A drink was their desire. A tasty sandwich was luxury to them. Competition amoung pubs was tough, even in this little village a long time ago. There were many pubs around in that coal distrinct north of Germany. The owners of the other pubs in the village changed more or less every year, some even earlier. My grandparents’ business stayed for over a decade, until they decided it was time to stop working. The guests loved their attitude, their individual touch, their personalized way of talking to them. My grandparents’ business was successful.

What was the key to their success story?

Before I answer this question, let me ask you something… When did you shake hands last time with a friend, or a business partner? Do you remember? Did you ever think about why we are shaking hands with people? Have you ever not returned a handshake? It is a common habit of introducing ourselves and of saying Goodbye. We just do it. Well, let’s say in the offline world we do it…

Those days, whenever somebody came into my grandparents’ pub, my grandma and granddad gave them a personal handshake, embedded in some small talk about the weather or last nights sports results. The conversation made people feel good, feel wanted, not just being anonymous guests. They created a living room. People started talking with them about their personal hopes, fears, issues. The handshake had broken the ice…

In our social web world of today, customer relationship management and social networking become an increasingly important factor to be maintain a successful business within a more and more challenging and competitive world.

Many relationships today begin with a virtual handshake. So you may ask: What is a virtual handshake? Today, it comes in the format of a comment on a blog post, a LIKE on a status update on a Fanpage, an introduction mail inside a social network, or an invitation to join a community (Facebook or LinkedIn or a company specific).

In the offline world, nobody would turn away and not return the handshake. However, in the online world individuals put effort in terms of writing, talking and engaging with companies and brands, making their brand passion transparent, or just opening their minds to “business” (or privat?) conversations. All of that often before having received a virtual handshake with those companies that are reaching out to them via their -often anonymous- social hubs.

By participating in a community or engaging in conversations, customers take the initiative, they state a case and describe an act of will. Companies tend to forget that this is a virtual handshake. “Hello! Here I am! Look what I am telling you…”.

Many companies and brands do not answer. They don’t reply on social networks. They don’t value the hand that is right in front of them waiting. The hand which feeds them and their business. The free opportunity to connect, collaborate, or convert. Lack of time and resources is the killer of many of their social web activities.

My grandparents never forgot to shake hands with people that came to visit their pub. This was their success story. So simple, right…?

Think about it next time you set up a group, start a community or approach someone on a social network (be it via InMail on LinkedIn or a status update on Facebook). Relationships start with a handshake – whether real or virtual. There just needs to be somebody that returns the handshake. For some this might be a change management process, for some it is just natural attitude towards customers…

News Update – Best of the Day

The search engine for the future is Facebook. Or let’s say social media. Sanjay Metha discusses “What is a search engine? and comes to an easy result: From a users perspective it is a platform where I can quickly get relevant results for whatever I am looking for. And his result is that social media owns the future as our friends offer more relevanceto our questions…

A luxury hotel in Mykonos has used social media for a campaign which was designed to work according to the organization’s objectives. Dimitris Zotos shares with us the actions and the goals of a real life example that can help us understand how social media can be used in order to promote a brand.

CWS knows how to kill a perfect night for chic and glamour girls. They say no to drugs! Funny commercial…

Tiger Woods Dubai Golf Community

Das neuste Projekt von Tiger Woods hat ein bischen was von ‘Tiger im Wunderland’: die Tiger Woods Dubai Golf Community. Nein, ausnahmsweise mal keine ‘Online-Social-Network-Welt’. Offline soll 2009 das gigantisch Projekt seine Vollendung finden und an Exklusivität fast alles übertreffen, was die Golfwelt je erlebt hat.

Die Pressemeldung lässt die Exklusivität der 72-Loch Championship Golf-Offline-Stätte, namens Al Ruwaya (zu deutsch: Heiterkeit/Gelassenheit), dann auch spüren…

“Luxury residences at The Tiger Woods Dubai will include 22 palaces, 75 mansions, and 100 signature villas. All residences will be situated on large land areas: palaces (100,000 sq. ft), mansions (50,000 sq. ft), large villas (30,000 sq. ft) and will include cutting-edge home technology and exquisite landscaped gardens. While master guidelines have been carefully chosen to ensure that the entire community enjoys amenities of the highest standards of quality and consistency.

The 360,000 sq. feet luxury boutique hotel will include 90 suites and 14 bungalows in sizes varying from 1,600-9,500 sq. feet. The hotel will target top-tier clientele and boasts a 10,000 sq. feet swimming pool, as well as one of Dubai’s most exquisite spas. The interiors of the hotel will be designed by renowned Lebanese designer Elie Saab and reflect his personalized style that is defined by a fusion of simplicity, luxury and modernism.”

Die Offlinewelt wird da online in Perfektion präsentiert und die Tore öffnen sich wohl später für beide nur nach vorheriger Registrierung und Genehmigung.

Online verschließt sich die glamouröse Märchenwelt nur in einem kleinen Navigationspunkt mit einem ‘Members Only’ Login. Dieser dient allerdings derzeit nur der Kontaktaufnahme durch das Salesteam. Die Abfrage nach Interest (Villa, Land und Golf Membership), Budget (in Millionenbeträgen) und Grund des Investments (Erst-, Zweitwohnsitz oder Investment) spricht aber eine klare Sprache…

Bleibt spannend und abzuwarten, was online aus dem Projekt wird. Jetzt warten wir aber erstmal ab, ob die PR Abteilung sich wirklich meldet und einen auf dem Laufenden hält.

To be continued…

Spot on!
Eine exklusive Community in der Offlinewelt – wirkt das nicht wie Web 2.0.mäßig auf den Kopf gestellt? Es ist irgendwie wie eine moderne Gruppierung 3 hoch 0, die Offline ausgetragen wird – die Golfer als eigener Kreis, die exklusive Dubai Community und das Golfareal in der Wüste. Da gibt es ein exklusives Land, in das nur die Reichen dürfen – Tür davor, ein kleines Vermögen verlangt und die meisten Menschen müssen draußen bleiben. Irgendwie verrückt, wenn sich Menschen vor der Realität verschließen… Da wirkt die Nachricht über den Pitch für golf.de noch so richtig Web 1.0-like.