This podcast episode is all about relationship building. I’m sitting down with Eric Melchor, a fellow podcast host who helps brands build personalized experiences. He’s a Texan expat currently living in Romania. We are chatting about the services he provides clients and the importance of relationship-building when running a business.
Eric works with brands and shows them how to deliver a personalized experience to different segments of their websites. Historically, the technology has been too expensive or required entire teams of IT professionals to manage, but advancements have allowed people without a coding background to jump in and add some personalization to websites. This is the new conversion rate optimization.
I got connected with Eric through Bonjoro and Casey Hill. We talked about personalization services, but what stood out to me most was our conversation about making friends in a new country and the lens of relationship building in general. Relationships are essential in business, so I wanted to dig a little into this topic during our conversation.
Building New Relationships in a New Country
Eric moved to Romania during the COVID pandemic and didn’t know anybody. There were no places to go, like coffee shops, because everyone was locked down. He faced the challenge of building or starting a network to find his next job. It was a definite challenge for him, but one that he overcame, and now, two years later, he gets more social invitations than he has time for. So, where did he start?
One great resource for expats is Facebook. There are groups for expats in different countries to meet each other and connect. Eric started with an introduction and included a picture. He explained to the group that he moved there with his wife and two young children. And he was clear and specific about what he was looking for—a job in the tech or start-up scene and people who are adventurous, exploring Europe, and love new restaurants.
It was all about being genuine and putting himself out there. He received dozens of DMs and responses. By being specific about what he was looking for, it was easier for people to take the next step. They could connect with something that he shared and respond to his very clear ask. Eric included the characteristics he sought, which helped him find people he could connect with.
In addition to Facebook, he joined a coworking space. The atmosphere was great, but people weren’t going out of their way to introduce themselves. Eric asked the hosts if he could bring a few bottles of wine on a Friday and invite everyone to join for a free glass of wine. That helped break the ice, and about ten people showed up. He is still connected to a few of those people even though he no longer goes to that coworking space.
Co-working spots are great for building a network. You can work remotely from anywhere, but Eric went to a coworking space to meet people. His apartment was smaller, and this offered him a great way to escape the house and engage with other people.
Eric is an extrovert, I am an introvert. Even though we are different in that aspect, there are still ways to make it work for either type. Take the initiative and give people an opportunity to come together. Eric invited people for wine, but you can host a round table discussion or lunch. In Eric’s example, no ego was involved because the space administrator sent the invitation. It wasn’t threatening because it was just the staff handing out free wine.
For those who work remotely, it’s good to be able to engage with other people. Co-working spots are a great resource. Social media and online presence are tapering off a bit as people need a break and to step back. It’s a great time to reconnect in person. Build relationships with people who could potentially be friends, colleagues, or partners.
Relationships are a form of currency. The more you have established, the easier time you’ll have finding a new job or new clients in the future. Eric was laid off a few years ago and instantly became an Uber driver as a way to meet more people. He did it as a way to talk to people while looking for a new job.
Using Podcasts and Other Online Resources to Build Relationships
The internet and online resources are great for creating a bridge and letting people know that you’re interested in connecting. It’s up to others to take that bridge or not, but it acts as a first step. Eric hosts a podcast, Innovators Can Laugh, interviewing startup founders. If he connects with one online, he’ll send a message and use a silly joke to get their attention. Then, he lets them know that he hosts a podcast interviewing people just like them. People love the jokes, and it helps kick off the conversation. Using his genuine personality, which is a little bit funny, helps develop a relationship.
The podcast provides Eric with another opportunity to meet people. He likes to travel around Europe with his family, and he can set up interviews with start-up founders in the different countries they are traveling to. This podcast allows me also to set up conversations, like this one with Eric, who I want to build relationships with. Podcasts are great relationship builders, and you can really help someone else spread their message.
Eric started working with OptiMonk after having the founder on his podcast. With the work at Bonjoro and then the follow-up after the podcast episode, it was enough for the founder to want to share his vision for his platform and where he wants it to go in the next five to ten years with Eric. It inspired him enough to join the company.
How Personalization in Marketing Fosters Relationships
When using personalization in your business, whether it’s through emails, videos, websites, or other marketing tools, it’s critical to be genuine. You don’t want to come across as scammy or sketchy. Bonjoro has been a great tool for me when doing outreach. I use personalization so much in my communication that I sometimes have to add a PS with a note that it’s actually me writing or letting people know that I’ve automated email delivery but that it’s still my words.
There are many ways you can personalize someone’s experience with your business. Bonjoro is a great tool that lets you get personalized with a video once someone subscribes or becomes a customer. OptiMonk helps personalize real-time when someone is on your website. For example, if you’re shopping an Australian brand from a United States location IP, you can designate a pop-up to welcome them and inform them of international shipping options. You’re helping overcome hesitation by using automation to personalize their experience.
Websites offer many different ways to deliver personalized messages. You can add a popup window, a sticky bar at the top or bottom of the screen, or even a message on the website that predicts what people might be looking for and helps them get there.
Internet businesses lack a salesperson greeting customers when they walk in the door, so consider replacing that on your website with some personalization. What would you ask someone when they walk through the door? Consider adding that question to your website with some helpful guidance.
Bring the offline experience to the online experience. Don’t make it about capturing an email address immediately. It comes at the cost of the customer experience. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and determine what would make the experience so good that they want to return. Cart abandonment sequences are helpful. Customers spend time picking things out and maybe get distracted.
OptiMonk allows business owners to scale and still deliver a personalized experience, even when you get thousands of visitors to your site daily. It’s important to understand your buyer, know what they actually want, and then provide it. Even B2B companies are taking advantage of the personalization offerings. Some might ask a website visitor what industry they are in and then provide them with the top offerings for that specific industry. You’re helping them access the content you’ve created the fastest way possible and improving their experience.
Relationships Help Sales and Business Development
My conversation with Eric perfectly exemplifies how building relationships is essential in business. The more I learn about OptiMonk through our authentic conversation, the more excited I am to test it with this website and business. Many people in sales struggle with conversations that feel too pushy or salesy. But what you should focus on is a genuine conversation to learn more about each other and your businesses to see how things can naturally align. Connections are infinite, and when you are of service now, it will come back to you in the future.
When Eric was at Bonjoro, he worked with a client that wasn’t one of their largest by volume, but when they peeled back the data, they found that it was a huge referral driver for their business. It’s important to look at those connections. That client is one of the highest-value clients for them because of the referrals. Those relationships are important and can drive your business in ways you won’t see immediately.
How to Maintain Strong Relationships
For Eric, being relational is an important part of who he is, so we discussed how to maintain these relationships and the level of connection with others. With friendships, Eric organizes a guy’s trip each year where men meet up for a weekend somewhere fun to connect. He also carves out weekly time to send messages to ten different people just to say hi and check in. Those messages often lead to “let’s get together,” and they can plan time. Setting aside dedicated time to connect with friends and family is essential.
Eric also carries on the cocktail hour that he started at that co-working space. Once a quarter, he invites a handful of people he’s connected with on LinkedIn or online somewhere to meet in person for drinks. He also has two icebreakers, one for introduction and one that’s a little deeper, like sharing a book that has impacted you. After the event, he has a better idea of the people he’d like to get to know even better and can follow up. Plus, he’s helping to connect others in the same industries. It’s a casual event with no presentations or pitches, just bringing people together.
Final Thoughts on Building Relationships from Eric Melchor
Eric’s advice to this community is to show people that you’re friendly. Use your social media profiles to include smiling photos and a personal blurb about something you enjoy. Be a person that people want to connect with. Send invitations and compliments to others as well. Everyone likes to get nice messages.
If you want to connect with Eric, find him on LinkedIn. He also gives a free personalization workshop every couple of weeks.