The internet has provided an amazing opportunity for people to collaborate, conduct business in far away areas, and build relationships they otherwise might never have established. Unfortunately, there is a level of personalization that can sometimes be missing from online business interactions. The result can be leads slipping through the cracks, negotiations failing, mistrust, etc. I want to tell you about a study I came across recently that shows the importance of personalizing your online presence.
Michael Morris and his colleagues tested a hypothesis that a process such as negotiation was affected whether it takes place online or in person. They thought that the lack of personal contact between the parties involved might hinder the negotiation process. They had graduate students negotiate with one another either through email or face to face. At the end of the day, the researchers found that those who negotiated via email exchanged far less of the personal information that helped to build rapport and trust between the parties.
Researcher Don Moore and his colleagues decided to take the previous study a step further. He decided to test a simple solution to the problem of personal information sharing. In his experiment, he had business school students from two different schools negotiate a deal via email. Half the students were told to simply negotiate the deal, the other half were given a photograph of the party they were negotiating with, biographical information of the other party, and were told to spend time getting to know one another through email prior to starting the negotiation.
For the negotiations where no additional information or personalization occurred, 29% of the pairs came to an impasse, where they could not agree on a deal. When the pair spent time getting to know one another, only 6% failed to reach a deal. In addition, the outcome of the negotiated settlements (the sum of what each party walked away with) were 18% higher for the pairs that spent time getting to know one another. This tells us that by sharing personal information in an online negotiation, you are not only more likely to reach a compromise but also to increase the amount each of you walk away with.
I think we can extrapolate from the above studies that you are more likely to have success with your online presence if you add elements of personalization. There are small things you can do to help your online presence become more personal and reap the benefits.
Photographs of Yourself - A simple and obvious one is adding photographs of yourself online. These don't necessarily need to grace the header of your website, but certainly having photos on your social media profiles, your about us page, your attorney profile page, your blog, etc. is important. This way people can attach a name with a face and it will give your firm a human element to it.
Videos- Videos are a fantastic way to demonstrate your personality, charisma, mannerisms, etc. in an online forum. This is as close as people can get to sitting in front of you in your office. Make sure your videos are informational in nature and keep them between 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length.
Blogging - Blogging gives you a platform to share your knowledge and develop rapport with your audience. You can discuss your expertise as well as share stories about yourself. This gives you a voice and personality that simply can't be matched with an "advertisement" type website for your firm.
Email Communication - Keeping your emails relevant and professional are important. However, it's undeniable that attempting to build some rapport with potential clients is a critical component to success when utilizing email or online correspondence.
Photo by Aidan Jones
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