JV Wong - jvwong@peopleignite.com

With the inevitable surge of digital interaction, people would nowadays say that going, and being “digital” is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. A friend of mine even uttered: “JV, getting disconnected feels like having my oxygen taken out from me. I hyperventilate when I am offline.” Guess who said this? You’re right! A person from the millennial generation whose work and lifestyle revolve around Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many other media channels. Let me share with you my 3 AHA! Moments on how we can connect better with others.

I attended the General Membership Meeting (GMM) of HRAP (Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines) last August 18 at the Marriott Hotel, Manila primarily to be inducted as a member. More than going through the formalities of membership, their GMM was memorably striking for me because the talks given by both Anton Diaz (CEO and Founder, Our Awesome Planet) and Amor Maclang (Brand Architect and Tourism Strategist) revolved around THE SOCIAL NETWORK, and how enterprises and organizations should NO LONGER make their presence in the digital world optional, but VITAL for their survival.

You might say, “JV, I am not a millennial, and I can live without being socially digital.” Yes, you are right. You may have survived the era of PocketBell pagers, gigantic mobile phones with antennas, and Filofax as your tools of the past, but one important thing we must take note of: We gotta millenialize our mindset. How do we do it? If you want your target market to try and buy your products and services, Ask yourself: Am I being TRUE and AUTHENTIC with my brand, or am I just going for the “hard sell”? Do I truly and passionately desire to know the pulse of my customers, or do I just go for their pockets and purchase power? We are already in the ERA of SHARE-ABILITY, and not just VIRALITY, as Amor Maclang mentioned. It’s not anymore about clicking LIKE buttons, but #s or hashtags. You want to be SHARED? Then be authentically unique. Remember: Tell a compelling story. Use the power of short-sweet-sharp stories and videos that will make people click that SHARE button.

I attended my daughter’s Parents Conference last July, 2015. Ms. Mary Ann Eala, Director for Academic Affairs, spoke about how we have a fixed mindset on things, and how we should start practicing having a GROWTH MINDSET. Inspired by author and academician Carol Dweck’s principles about mindset, a person with a fixed mindset would often say these phrases: “I’m good with this (OK na sa akin ito.)” “I am not talented with that, so I’d rather not explore it.” “I can’t do it, because I have limited time, money and energy.” “I’m not born to do that.” “I’m not cut out for that.” Not only are we limiting ourselves with what the world can potentially offer us, but also a fixed mindset literally would put our destiny in a box. On the other hand, a GROWTH MINDSET will make us go for new opportunities, grow ourselves, and glow so that others can be positively ignited through us.

So what are statements of a person with a growth mindset? “I CAN. I WILL.” No matter what the setbacks or roadblocks are, you need to pursue what you desire to happen, and go for it. If you are true to your purpose and intentions, persevering in your actions, and humble in your ways, you will achieve what you perceive. Do you have any apprehension about going digital? Do you allow setbacks or excuses not to fully explore digital interaction? It’s time to have a GROWTH mindset and make your presence online grow. As Anton Diaz shared in his talk “Strategies and Best Practices”, the top active social network platforms being used today are Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram where stories about people, places, brands, and ideas are shared and celebrated. If you are not present in majority of these social networks, then where are you?

I always believe that once you have found your DNA -- what’s unique and true about you, it’s natural to grow as a person, as a brand, as an organization. On the other hand, if you keep on pursuing (or copying) something far from your brand story and purpose, you would find yourself trying so hard to prove a point, only to discover that you wasted your resources. Remember: Find what’s authentic and stand by it, no matter what.

Niña Terol, a good friend of mine who writes for Rappler, once said in her article: “I’d rather be wrong, than fake.” Niña has been a change maker, writer and corporate communicator for years. One reason why she has a long list of followers is because she is transparent, candid, and honest about her views. Through storytelling and insight sharing, Niña is able to connect to different generations through her amusing style of writing. For me, she stands as a BRAND of her own. Her authenticity is a rarity in the world. You want to be shared by others? Stop being plastic and start being authentic! Go for audience relatability, and profitability will surely follow. Remember: If I cannot relate to your brand, I will not use your brand.

As we both explore HOW we can connect to our target market and customers, I believe that we should explore WHY we want to connect with them, and WHAT do they really want to see from our brands. One vital way to connect with them is through our stories and touchpoints WHICH WE NEED TO SHARE both online and offline. This is now the ERA of DIGITAL AUTHENTICITY, and not anymore about brand virality. What do you want others to share about you?