I was in Philadelphia for New Years visiting with friends and hoping to get some time to decompress (and finally see the Mummers parade in person). One of the many things we did during my visit was head over to the Cedar Park neighborhood for Local 44‘s opening night. I was impressed by the atmosphere, the beer selection (all microbrews) and the menu and proceeded to write about my experience on my personal blog. The comment I received was from the bar thanking me for coming out and hoping that I would come out and visit again when I was next in town. I wish them many years of success, because I look forward to many visits to the bar whenever I have the chance – and yes, it’s mainly because they decided to recognize the fact that I had written about them.
It’s a lesson that we’ve been taught and reminded about forever – our first instinct should be to listen to what’s going on around us and not necessarily to assume what you’re going to hear as the answer.
Many people get into business because they listened to a need in their community and they decided they would try to fill it. I’m sure that many of us would admit that those businesses that continue to listen to their clientele and react effectively to what they hear are the ones that are most successful. I would comb over comment cards from my days managing an inn hoping that I could improve the quality of service based on what those who took the time to fill out the cards had to say. Well, nowadays listening means not just paying attention to the words on the comment card in your hand but to the words shared on blogs, Facebook and Yelp to name only a few outlets in the virtual world. (We’ll take a look at them and others as we go along).
One thing to keep in mind before hanging your shingle out in the world of social media is that you want to hang out at some of the outposts and do some listening, either about yourself or other comparable businesses. You may find that what you think is the necessary need is only part of the problem or not even the problem at all. You may also find some ways to solve those problems effectively without spinning your wheels.
Amber Naslund‘s e-book provides essential information for those businesses that are attempting to step off the ledge and those lessons and suggestions can easily be applied to non profits and governments. Listen and, once you’re comfortable, be prepared to answer on that stage. People are said to be looking for transparency in their government nowadays. That transparency includes being able to interact with them at every level and in as many ways as possible. The best way to do that is to take a moment each day and be all ears (and every once in a while enjoy the silence when it happens).
Photo: The bar’s jumping at Local 44. acnatta/Flickr