Recently, I joined a group on Facebook for like-minded business owners. This was purportedly a support group, aimed at business owners, wanting to discuss solutions for their business challenges. This was not a networking or sales group. I joined this group to gain fresh ideas, as a way to meet other business owners and to see how we might be able to support each other – or so I thought…
I was introduced to the group by the administrator and was, in turn, asked to introduce myself. Happily, I gave my name and offered some personal information; what I like to do in my spare time, how many kids I have, my marital status, that I run my own successful small business (I did not state what type of business this was) and what pain points I was experiencing in my business. I also made it clear that I had joined this group to understand how other business owners work to alleviate their pain points – I was looking for support.
The aim of my introduction was not to sell my services, it was to present myself as a human being and a fellow business owner. It was to share why I joined this group and discuss the vulnerabilities in my business. I was hoping to speak in a safe place where I could gain support and understanding from others about what works or does not work, for them. A brainstorming group – this is why I joined this particular group.
Given I am big on creating meaningful connections and building robust relationships with people, I was hoping some of the members in this group would build a rapport with me and tell me a little about who THEY are as a person. What I found was quite fascinating!
I had twenty-three people respond and welcome me to the group that day. However, instead of sharing their own experiences or even asking me any further questions, eighteen of the twenty-three participants jumped in straight away, hawking their services and how they could help me. In fact, two of those eighteen immediately asked to schedule a meeting with me so they could solve my problems.
This was absolutely disturbing to me. These people had no idea who I really was, they did not know what type of business I own and certainly did not notice when I said that I am big on making meaningful connections with people. They simply did not listen nor did they care why I was there – they smelled new blood and smothered me trying to get my business.
I had offers from business coaches wanting to coach me, personal shoppers wanting to shop for me and a nanny agency offering to look after my children. I even had a fellow Virtual Assistant offer me their services – asking me if I knew what a VA was and advising how a VA could help my business. (Did I mention that I own a Virtual Assistant company?)
I soon realised that this may not be the best group for me. I needed support from like-minded business owners who have daily struggles in their own businesses. I was here to see how others put out their fires, how they work with their teams and how they support their own businesses. I pointed out that I felt the majority of people who responded were trying to sell their services to me without even knowing what it is that I do – more sales than support.
On the upside, out of the twenty-three that “welcomed” me to the group that day, five people were interested in who I was. I was delighted to learn more about who they were and what they do and, happily, they each asked me what I do, which I gladly told them. Their feedback to me was that they enjoyed getting to know me as a person, mother, wife, business owner and someone who sometimes struggles just as much as they do. I seemed open and honest – someone they could learn from.
Personally, I have learned much from these five connections I have made. We also decided that it would be more beneficial to set up a private chat than to remain in the original group, which I have now left.
The moral of the story; get to know people before you jump in and try to save them. You might be offering to save them in areas they don’t need and may end up just pushing them away. Engage with your connections – you never know what you will learn and where those relationships may lead.
Written by Korryn Campbell