Home » You Can’t Automate Human Connection

You Can’t Automate Human Connection

by Richard Foulkes

This week, as a break from BNI, we are going to take a look at something quite topical while showing the similarity it has with BNI, and perhaps why BNI continues to grow in an ever more digital world.

AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots & marketing automation, what are the risks of choosing efficiency over effectiveness?

• If you are going out to your digital network and asking for referrals or help, spamming them with automatic copy and paste via Social Media does not strengthen your network or add context to the message. Instead, you want people to know you value them and their opinions.
• In BNI terms, it means your network is a mile wide and an inch deep rather than an inch wide and a mile deep.
• Your digital network may appear more efficient but care is needed to make it effective.

Being digitally effective

•Don’t try and short cut the human connection. We’ve all seen those posts or emails, call it “premature solicitation”* if you will.
•Digital engagement needs to be selective and in context to the depth of the relationship you have with them. If you’ve never met someone, asking them if they need a new website is unlikely to be effective.
•Take time to engage on a personal level and use the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and the white noise that is deafening us all.

* BNI Podcast 147 – ”Premature Solicitation”

Relationship approach to digital channels

• Like BNI, taking a relationship approach to your digital marketing garners long term results far beyond instant gratification of simple leads.
• The other key point is that a relationship works both ways. The people in your network, digital or otherwise, need to know you will offer them support or help should they ask.
• It’s a level of credibility that is won over a period of time and not by spamming everyone that accepts your connection request with a capability statement.

“The next time you jump online consider the impact of the words you write and the type of digital house you want to build. Learn from the three little pigs – a house of straw may well be time efficient but will it really help you weather the storms we so often encounter in life and business.”

Simone Douglas, Executive Director BNI Adelaide North in Australia

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Jimmy 29 February 2020 - 10:47 pm

Why do you think that ‘spamming’ your digital network isn’t working? I know businesses who built their business from Instagram and Facebook, while creating the image of adding a lot of value. Those days you simply don’t need to build an entire network to reach far and fast like in the old days.

You can take for example this business https://blackshealth.co.nz/ – It has been built by influencers selling a collagen product – Nothing fancy. But it wouldn’t go even near to where it’s now with your suggestions (focusing on human connections rather than on digital media connections).

Do you think I got it wrong?

Richard Foulkes 2 March 2020 - 2:52 pm

Hi Jimmy

Thanks for your email.

I think you can do it that way but it would feel soulless and transactional to me. The key point in the piece is “human connection” and we are saying put the human first and money second. Not to say you can’t get to the human later but especially in a BNI context, that not the way we work and it’s the reason BNI continues to grow in the face of AI.

As Tony Robbins says, one of the six human needs is connection and automating Facebook feeds, which was supposed to be a way of connecting to humans you couldn’t see every day doesn’t serve that need in the first instance.

Agree to differ on this one!


Richard Foulkes
Director Consultant | Auckland

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