Track This: The number and quality of those people who like you, like what you do, and want you to succeed.

Let’s begin by defining what I mean when I say fan. I’ll give you a hint, it has little to do with social media. A fan is someone who knows you, likes you, likes what you do and wants to see you succeed. This is very different than someone who likes what you say, imagines who you are, and wants to get to know you.

How many people out there fit this description for you and your endeavors? Make a list. Write their names down. It will make you feel good. Include the family and friends (who fit the description of course).  Look next to customers, partners, colleagues and other acquaintances who may fit the bill to finish your list.

Now, for those you considered that were a marginal fit, ask yourself:

  • What would it take to get these people I know to become my fans?
  • How can I invest in them (without selling myself short) and get them to advocate for my growth and success?
  • What role can they play in my growth and success?

You’d be surprised how many fans you can really have, and how effective real life fans are compared to the digital ones. Work on developing these marginal folks into real fans.

The small things matter and the little people can have a big impact on you and your business.

The title of fan is not reserved for only referral partners or business prospects, and I pity the poor souls who limit their thinking to such few categories. Fans are people that come from all walks of life. The friendlier they are and the more they relate to who you are and what you do, the stronger your brand truly is. They are your personal army of advocates. And when a prospect hears your name from the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, he or she is far more likely to contact you. Don’t discount anyone because of their role. You’d be amazed at the level of influence that all the so-called “little” people have in the world.

The  many roles of fans

  • Referral and Recommendation – Those interested in your success will consciously work on your behalf to connect others to you.
  • Spread the Legend – Fans share your stories and tales of epic achievement.
  • Encouragement – It feels good when the grocery store clerk remembers your name and says hello. This is a form of fan and a gift. Don’t underestimate the value of the people who can recharge your batteries and uplift your spirit. The more of these experiences you have, the more effective you can be.
  • Feedback – I’m not talking about advice on your business strategy. I’m talking about basic and more subtle forms of feedback. Do people smile as they shout your name across a building/store or parking lot? If so, this is a good sign. People go out of their way and risk a little embarrassment just to get your attention or say hello. This feels good and boosts your confidence. This is a huge moment.
  • Insight – How many TV shows involve a protagonist who gets insight from a seemingly unrelated source or unrelated topic to solve a profound puzzle? There are many enlightened ah-ha moments that come from seemingly disconnected ideas.

You don’t have to spend money to build fans. Real fans require less and give more than those on social media. Kindness is so quick and easy to give. It requires little preparation or investment. People want to feel acknowledged, have opinions validated, and held in high regard, or at least preserve their egos. Simply saying a person’s name, restating what they’ve shared with you to reflect understanding, and adding something to it go a long way to building a fan that can transform into a referral.

So be generous in giving kindness. Listen, connect, share and be open to receive the benefits of such generosity. It works.