Real estate is about relationships, but those relationships are hard to build or maintain when so much of our lives have gone virtual in the last year. Where we used to meet for lunch or chat around a boardroom, we’re now opening up cameras for Zoom meetings. Covid-19 has really changed the way we interact by adding in new habits. And some of those habits are worse than others.
David Wood has built a life coaching community with over 150,000 life coaches, but today he’s focusing his attention on helping CEOs, executives, business owners, and sometimes prison inmates level up their work and their life. He is passionate about helping people authentically connect, and he’s developed an app called Play for Real that facilitates that at work, at home, or at play. He shared some tips with me to help my employees and family maintain and strengthen relationships even while we’re apart during the pandemic.
CONNECT WITH INVESTORS
Why do we want to connect deeper? At our very core, David says, we’re just animals who crave connection and touch with other people. If you want to influence people, have your staff stick with you, and get your teammates to respect you, then you need to be able to exert some positive influence on them. And that starts with relating with them.
You probably realize that when you ask a coworker how their family is and then you listen sincerely to their answer, they really respond to you. Your concern and attention made them feel good. And at the end of the day, what might seem like simple courtesy is really just good business.
The Securities Exchange Commission requires us to have a relationship with an investor, but I’ve found that the deeper my personal relationship is with an investor, the better our investment relationship is going to be. They’re more likely to invest sooner, invest more money, and stay with us longer. I’ve been using virtual platforms to raise money since 2011, and it’s worked very well for us.
When I’m meeting with a new investor, I tend to spend about the first twenty minutes of the call just getting to know them. I’m not just looking to borrow money from them; I’m looking for a long-term investment. Whether they choose to invest in my private equity fund or not, it’s really immaterial because I want that real relationship with you. If I’m not a fit for you, I’m going to point you in the direction of someone else who is because I respect our relationship.
ASK BETTER QUESTIONS
There are 3 simple steps that anyone can practice to connect with their friends, family or coworkers:
- Have Curiosity about them.
- Pause to reflect.
- Notice the impact.
Start by navigating the conversation as if you’re a five year old and you just want to know all about them. But your questions should be thoughtful or engaging. For instance, you could ask someone, “What’s put the biggest smile on your face in the last week?”, “What was your favorite Christmas gift to give?”, or even “Who’s your favorite ninja turtle?”.
As someone answers the question, you can see them start to light up. You can start in on the reflection next by just recognizing what they’re feeling. You might say, “Wow, it looks like that experience made you feel closer to your son. You can really see how much you love being with him”. This shows the storyteller that you heard what they were saying and lets them see that you recognize their humanity.
Now, a lot of people skip this last stage, but it can be really powerful. You need to notice how the story made an impact on both of you. While someone’s telling you their story, you can see their body language change and recognize your own response. Then you can respond with “I can really see that that’s something you feel passionate about”. And then with just one simple story, you’ve been able to connect and strengthen your relationship with that person.
TALK MORE TO INVESTORS
David’s app Play for Real helps you ask better questions to facilitate better conversations. Getting a group of prospects together for a team-building activity is the perfect time to sit down with David’s app and ask questions that let you get to know your team. It can be so easy to just hop on a Zoom call and hurriedly push out all of the information you need your team to know, but you could be missing some real problems.
What you want as the CEO of the business is for people to say, “I love working with Josh. I love working for this company”. But the reason they love the company they work for isn’t the company itself, but the people. Just like your employees who love working for you, the reason investors give you money isn’t because they love your company. It’s because they love you and your employees.
When I was twenty-four years old, I worked as a financial advisor selling retirement plans, estate planning, insurance, and mutual funds. My mentor’s name was Dan, and he was the top producer in the office. When I’d go on appointments with Dan to land some big whale client that I’d found, Dan would talk and talk for hours without ever getting to his pitch. I would sit there while he yakked away and wonder, “When is he ever going to ask them about their plans for retirement?”.
I was hustling and going to 5 or 6 appointments a day, and Dan would average maybe only 2 or 3. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Dan was building that deep relationship that’s just like David described. He was really getting to know his clients so they’d invest with him. And they did. They didn’t even care about the rate of return on the mutual funds or the cost of the long-term care plan. They just gave all of their money to Dan to manage because they loved him.
Stronger investor relationships start with better conversations where you hear and see the real person on the other end of that phone call or that Zoom meeting. Ask better questions, reflect back the answer you receive, and recognize the impact this conversation is having on you. Investors will love you and your company.
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