Connect with New CustomersSo, you’ve started a business- your website has launched, your products and services are ready to go and the sign in your window now reads “OPEN”. But after you’ve done all of the legwork to get your business up and running, how do you find the customers that will actually hire you or patronize your business? Well, here are a few ways to make connecting with new customers a little less challenging:

(1) Start a Casual Conversation

One of the easiest and most overlooked ways to get customers is to strike up a casual conversation with just about anybody that you encounter in your day to day life, from your Starbucks barista or your dry-cleaner to your UPS delivery person or someone at the gym. People love to talk about themselves, so ask them a question and then, look for natural ways to work your business into the conversation. You can take this a step further by thinking about your ideal target customer and where that person might hang out. Then, go to those places and start talking! When people are relaxed and engaged in a two-way conversation, they’ll be more receptive to hearing about your business, as it won’t feel like you are trying to “sell” them. Fantastic customer relationships can emerge from the most unlikely conversations.

(2) Follow the Golden Rule

It may sound basic, but treat others the way that you would like to be treated. I am a big advocate for finding ways to be helpful to others without expecting anything in return. Others are much more inclined to purchase from or spread the word about those individuals or businesses that they know, like and trust. So, when you genuinely help someone, you will be top of mind when they need the service that your business provides or know someone that wants a product that you sell. And pay compliments and praise when they are deserved. A simple, kind gesture can turn a stranger into a long-time customer and fierce advocate on behalf of you and your business.

(3) Use Business-Related Conversation Starters

Like I mentioned in point number 1 above, casual conversations can lead to meaningful customer relationships. Another way to get those conversations started is to catch the public’s attention with brand-related conversation starters. More common examples of this can be wearing a company tee shirt or cap with your brand logo on it while you are out running errands. This makes for an easy conversation starter and you can even hand out your swag as you wrap up your conversation (because, hey- who doesn’t like free swag?). Using something like a tee shirt allows for even more reach, as that person wears your shirt and has the potential to start conversations with others. You can get even more creative with this idea to really get business conversations started, like driving around in a vehicle decorated with something related to your business (think the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile!), or with a more affordable option like putting a sign on your car door. Get creative- the more unusual, the more likely it will prompt a conversation with a potential new customer!

What other tips do you have for connecting with new customers? Please share them below.

Thanks to Becky Boyd of MediaFirst, Loren Fogelman of Expert Sports, Dianne Daniels of Dianne Daniels Speaks, Inc, Craig Wolfe of CelebriDucks and Lisa Tener of Write Your Book for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.