Be Your Own Crossing Guard

crossing guard

Crossing guards, as parents, we trust them to ensure that our children are able to cross the street safely. As children, we want to be them as they help and provide the attention that children seek outside the home. Many are older retirees that each day spend a few hours walking back and forth with a stop sign and talking to the children that brighten their day as much as they brighten the day of the kids. While many do not remember the names of each child, they do know something about each of them that builds a relationship throughout the school year.

Talking to people to build relationships is nothing new however we live in times through technology where we are looking for that instant fix, gratification and bond as we seek to increase awareness, traffic, brand loyalty and sales. We invite people in, try and tell them all that we can about us so that we can call them a friend. As consumers when we visit a website we are seeking information about the services or product and when we are ready to let them know about us, we purchase, send an inquiry on the contact form, call or comment on the blog. Until that time, we are getting to know the company and finding our trust level to then do what the company is asking of us.

As the company, during this time of trying to build trust, we have to navigate them to where we want them to go to fulfill that trust component. We are not always successful as people click off and move on to someone else. With a blog, they are reading, getting the information and some share thoughts and some do not. Are they hiding the fact that they are reading by not commenting or subscribing or are they getting the information and just moving on for more? We may never know but what we can do is gain the information about those that do comment or subscribe and build that relationship.

Be Your Own Crossing Guard

Crossing guards you are entrusted with the lives of children. They come out 180 days and battle not only the weather elements but also the aggressive drivers who just are in too much of a hurry to stop. They do this while still talking to the children, identifying the bike riders, the scooter riders, the brothers and sisters, the friends, etc. They know a lot by just being there and interacting. Sure, they yell at the drivers or sit in their car until the waves of children start approaching but they are there with no “I will deal with this later” or rants or any loss of focus. As a business, we also deal with some of these same things but yet how we handle them is what sets us apart.

Being there waiting to talk to people is a great thought but yet how much further does it go than a thought? We see businesses saying that they are available to care for all their client needs but yet then we see on Twitter or any of the other social media platforms how swamped they are, or how they wish the day would end. How inviting is that for a customer or even potential customer? We are real on these platforms and that is that transparency that people yearn for as you are building an audience and persona we do we think about what our Twitter streams  tells about us?

How do we become our own crossing guard?

1. Focus. Define why you are there and keep that focus. It is not easy with the every day challenges of running a business but maintaining that focus is inviting. When you stray and we all do, get back to the focus of why you are there and stay with it as someone is relying upon you.

2. Listening. Listening is one of the most vital parts of running a business and also a part of every day life. We have to listen to ourselves and others with every waking hour. Listening creates talking and talking creates relationships … so long as they listen too. Crossing guards listen to the kids and and gain as much information about them as they can so that nothing happens on their watch.

3. Talking. Wow this one is powerful and so easy to divert from. I know I read a lot of articles, tweet them and post them to LinkedIn and other platforms but reaching out to the author or even adding a bit of personalization to the tweet is not always a strong point. We share articles that we like and find value in but taking the time to tell the author that we liked the post outside of the comments gets a conversation started.

4. Reacting. Reacting to what we listen to and talk about pretty much go hand in hand. We listen and react though talking. Sounds easy but our reactions to what we listen to are key. The more we talk, the more people listen but yet have their own talking to do, which creates another reaction. As a business we are out there for everyone to see and react to.

5. Building Relationships. In dating we have dates. We talk and listen and find a certain attractiveness that takes the conversation further. Where in business do we lose that? Relationships take time and work. Yes, some are instant bliss but others take time. Crossing guards take 180 days to keep learning whereas in business some are looking at first glance to convert.  We all love bliss in business as I would love for everyone who comes to the site to comment or every small business to hire us but we need that second, third or even tenth date to get there.

Remember, crossing guards talk to and build relationships over the period of the school year and most of all are trusted. They have the opportunity to interact with the children each day but for just a few minutes and yet are able to find out so much.  As you find new people to listen to and talk to take some time to remember that it takes time. Find out things about them so and build upon that by taking a few minutes each day.

Are you a crossing guard?

photo credit: JiBryant