Old-fashioned social relations: a better return on investment?

Albert Robinson

An acquaintance of mine runs a small diamond business. He does not have a web site, nor does he have a Facebook page. He is not LinkedIn, would have no idea how to Tweet and, frankly, could not care less about social media marketing. Sending emails, and texts via his smartphone, more or less defines his familiarity with the world of instant communications.However, he has one particularly old-fashioned characteristic that enables him to get by just fine. And that is an ability to connect with people, quickly and effectively. Not on a laptop and not via his mobile phone, but with real people. Face-to-face. Introduce him to a stranger, and within minutes he will often find a connection. A real-world connection: someone they both know from the business world, or with whom they studied or worked in the past.

I was thinking of this friend recently as I leafed through a newspaper and came across an article and an advert for a high-tech conference. The article stated that a survey of sales at a range of businesses in the United States (not in the diamond sector) had shown that just 2 percent of the sales could be attributed to the companies’ social media channels.

Meanwhile, the business conference dealt with online marketing. How do you monetize a web site – or what used to be called: how do you make money from your site. How do you use social media to promote sales? In an age of instant communication and Internet and electronic tools that enable you to pin-point potential clients, who would waste time actually calling and visiting clients?

Well, this acquaintance of mine, actually. He does business in what might be considered by some to be a quaint, old-fashioned and probably inefficient way. He spends much of his day phoning and visiting current and potential new clients. He spends a considerable amount of time walking the corridors and riding the elevators of the diamond exchange in which he is based, as well as helping to keep several cafes in the area in business.

Seems like a disorganized and unproductive way of promoting his business? Turns out that he holds around a dozen “meaningful” meetings in this way most days. These impromptu discussions provide him with tip-offs for potential new customers as well as keeping his relationships with his clients well-oiled. Riding the elevators, he says, keeps him in tune with developments in the diamond trade, just by listening to conversations.

[two_third]He does what people have been doing for thousands of years and which, it seems, is now regarded as out-of-date: he makes and reinforces actual human connections. Let’s meet, let’s talk. Maybe something will come of it – and it often does. Even if he does not secure any business from the meeting, he will suggest the person speaks to a colleague or friend of his who can help him. The resulting goodwill means that at some point in the future that favor is likely to be returned.[/two_third]


“He does what people have been doing for thousands of years and which, it seems, is now regarded as out-of-date: he makes and reinforces actual human connections.”


It is not high-tech, there are no social media involved, it is not digital and no sophisticated research is required to identify new trends. It’s all about talking and interacting and selling real items for which there is a real demand. As one diamond trader told me at the US & International Diamond Week events at the Israel Diamond Exchange last August: ‘We have come out of our offices and we are meeting people with whom we have been doing business for years for the first time. Not only that, we are discovering from conversations with them that we can supply them with additional items that we never knew they needed.

Diamond companies overall have not tightly embraced social networks as a means of creating new business – and they may be right. Marketing products and communicating via social media may have become indispensable for many industries. Clearly, they can play a critical role in helping to create and strengthen connections. But can traveling half-way around the world, on occasion, to attend a tradeshow or to visit several companies provide a better return on investment than employing someone to take care of social networking?

So, the next time you are updating your status, or posting pictures or short films, consider whether that time would be more profitably spent identifying potential customers in a diamond exchange index and telephoning the firm and making an appointment to visit.

Have a great weekend.

Source Idexonline