THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Human interest

There is something initially frustrating about the number of times my Facebook posts on “conversations with taxi drivers” are liked, commented on and shared – compared with the pearls of wisdom on the business of dentistry that I try my level best to create every day.

The taxi habit developed organically and as a result of my discomfort, sitting in a cab en route to an airport or station, either in silence or exchanging platitudes about the weather.

A question formed in my mind:

“So – nobody ever left school wanting to be a cab driver – tell me, how did you get into this line of work?”

Little did I anticipate the cornucopia of fascinating tales that this question would unleash.

For those who don’t follow my Facebook profile, here is a taste from yesterday’s 15-minute ride:

This afternoon’s taxi driver (Farnham to North Camp) arrived in the UK from Pakistan 10 years ago with his wife, 3-month old son and a Masters degree in accounting. The best job offer he could get was to work free of charge for 6 months in accountancy. Having to feed his family, he took a series of menial jobs before landing a position as bookkeeper for a nursing home. Redundant after 2 years, he managed to open a grocery store in Farnham. His father became ill and he went back home for 4 weeks and left a locum shop manager. On his return, the keys for the shop were on his drive, the shop closed and a months takings plus stock were all gone, along with the manager ( never seen again).

He borrowed £1000 from a friend, bought a Nissan Micra and starting doing pizza delivery. 2 years ago he bought a lottery ticket and won £20,000. He paid off his debts, put a deposit down on a house in Manchester for his parents, paid £10,000 for a new car and opened his taxi business. He keeps the rest of the money in the bank and works long hours to keep his family comfortable. He believes the lottery win was an example of karma at work.

I don’t meet lottery winners every day but I’ve discovered that everybody does have a story and that most of them are remark-able.

The above story was “liked” by 116 people in the last 17 hours, commented on by 16 and shared by 1.

Much more engagement than some of my best work as a business blogger.

Because we are far more interested in other people’s stories than we are in things and theories.

Don’t get me wrong here – I read Seth Godin’s blog daily and his knowledge and experience in marketing are priceless.

But for you and I – we are not trying to be the 5th most widely read blog in the world – we are trying to engage and share our thoughts – to increase the size of our tribe.

The personal purpose of blogging can be seen as a catharsis but the professional/commercial reason to blog is to gather a tribe who will one day transact business with us.

Last night I spoke to an invited audience of 50+ at a Lloyds Bank client evening (supporting Bridge2Aid).

As always, “strangers” thanked me for my blog, which some have followed for years.

So the tribe has a virtual relationship with me, even though I may not know them (yet).

You and I are in the same boat.

Your dental practice needs:

  1. a weekly blog

  2. daily Facebook posts

  3. both distributed across other social media channels using Hootsuite

so that you can get maximum coverage to increase your tribe of existing and potential future patients.

The content of your blogs and posts becomes potentially viral when focused on human interest:

  1. patients whose lives you have changed for the better

  2. team members whose careers are progressing

  3. your own experiences

Human interest stories are shared – many more times than telling people how much you know.

My taxi drivers have no idea, not only how genuinely interesting and inspirational their stories are to me – but also how much they are inspiring – and growing – my audience.

There is perhaps another final point here – and I know it will sound like a cliche but……

Everyone has a story – no matter how they dress, how they sound, what they do, what cultural and economic background has shaped their life.

Taking the time to listen is what defines you and I as interesting – not just the cabbies.

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