I’m often asked about the value of participating in social media on a personal level. Why do it? What can it REALLY do for you? It doesn’t pay, does it? I hear questions like this all the time. This past week, I was invited by the kind folks at TDS to be one of 6 bloggers to see the inner workings of their communication and connectivity tools. We received the red carpet big time. Wonderfully catered breakfast, lunch and dinner (including an amazing dinner at the nationally renowned L’Etoile on the square in Madison, WI), hotel accommodations, and a phone conference calling device for laptops courtesy of PolyCom. Oh, and a brand new Kindle Fire. All totaled, it was an amazingly generous package by the folks at TDS.
Before I go any further, let me say in full disclosure. I am not a TDS customer. Also, TDS did not require I say anything positive in return for the day. So what did I think was the key takeaway from the day? While the items and meals were great (and very much appreciated) what I found much, much more valuable was the opportunity to network and see first-hand the inner workings of a company dedicated to helping businesses stay at the forefront of connecting. We chatted about core philosophies with TDS CEO David Wittwer and other TDS managers, we we able to see live demos of products in action and tour a TDS data center. And, they listened to what we said small businesses want and need. That’s what I really found impressive … TDS’s openness and willingness to reach out and actively listen.
As a business consultant and teacher, I often see businesses attempting to foster relationships through gifts and pampering, but with clear strings attached. These efforts will always end in failure. Why? Because today’s marketing is really about being real. Successful companies, companies that are differentiating themselves from the rest of the crowd aren’t trying to buy likes, follows and friends. They aren’t companies that only want to hear positive reviews. Instead, they are companies that LISTEN. They are companies dedicated to having real, genuine dialogue and they work to improve themselves to serve their ideal customers. And I would say TDS is one of those companies.
While it was great to be treated like a king for a day, the real return I received was having my faith in business increase with seeing a company that gets it and is living it first-hand.