Why A Personal Connection Is Important: Lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

By Ian Altman | Small Business

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly seen many videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. There are many creative videos of people dumping ice buckets that have certainly created much awareness for ALS. I’ve learned a great deal about ALS from the associated comments and articles. I was recently challenged by my friend and fellow speaker, Joey Coleman. Initially, I didn’t have a personal connection to the cause, so was not sold on the idea of dumping a bucket of ice water on my head. There is an important business lesson about creating a personal connection that we can all learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

When It Became Personal

As part of a recent keynote address at The Institute for Excellence in Sales and Business Development, I had the rare opportunity of being joined on stage by my Same Side Selling co-author, Jack Quarles. (We wrote the book together, and have been speaking all over the world separately ever since). Jack and I were preparing for the address and I mentioned to him the Ice Bucket Challenge that I had received from Joey. Jack said, “My uncle was a strong man and ALS took him from us in less than a year from his diagnosis.” In an instant, the ALS cause became personal to me. I felt inspired to immediately make a donation to ALS and wanted others I knew to also join the cause. I also decided to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge and do it at our upcoming speaking engagement. Were it not for the personal connection through Jack, the challenge might not have enticed me.


Steve Olenski shared in his recent Forbes article some great marketing lessons that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge teaches us. The one lesson that stands out for me is #2 in his article: Make it Personal. Were it not for the personal connection through Jack, I may not have participated in the ALS Challenge. Creating a personal connection is also essential when you engage with potential customers.

Why A Personal Connection Is Important

It is easy to forget that customers engage emotionally, and justify rationally. If you can find a personal connection with your potential customer, they might have more of an emotional connection with you than they will with your competition. Recognize, however, that you don’t need a charitable cause to connect with your potential customers. Business networking is one thing, but rarely does a business network afford you the opportunity to connect at a personal or emotional level with a potential customer.

How You Can Connect with Potential Customers

Common interests can provide a solid foundation to connect beyond business.Whether you enjoy cycling, painting, yoga, or cooking, there is a good chance to meet people with shared interests. Derek Coburn, author of Networking Is Not Working, shares an example of when you have four tickets to an event. Coburn says to invite your client, and give them the other two tickets to invite their friends or clients. Coburn goes on to suggest that it would be great if your client invited people who might be a good fit for you. Your client will have a great time because they are surrounded by their friends, and you might meet a new potential client. At a minimum, your client will feel appreciated.

Don’t Push Your Stuff

When you meet someone, they rarely want to know right off the bat what you do. Rather they are looking for a connection with you. Don’t mess up a personal connection by trying to pitch what you do in business. If by chance the conversation does lead to them asking, “What do you do?”; consider giving a same-side pitch that focuses on how you help people instead of “what you do.” Just because the person you met might appear on paper to be a good potential client for you, they might not be experiencing symptoms that would make it a good fit today.

Think Beyond Your Contact

It turns out that a very small percentage of potential customers you meet actually end up being a good fit. Accordingly, the people you meet through common interests rarely need your services. But, that’s not a bad thing. Each of them likely knows dozens of people who might be a great fit for your services. Therefore sharing “how you help people” makes it easier for people you meet to connect you with others they know who might be seeking the type of solutions you offer.

It’s About Finding Fit

Find areas where you can connect personally to form a strong network. Just remember that your ideal client is probably at least one step removed from your contact. Connect authentically and genuinely, and your personal connections might lead you to business opportunities with a good fit. At a minimum, you’ll end up knowing people with common interests. You might not convince someone to dump a bucket of ice on their head, but that personal connection could link you to a client where you can really help.

It’s Your Turn

When has a personal connection turned into an introduction that led to business for you?

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Why A Personal Connection Is Important: Lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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