The holiday season is upon us.
There seems to be a celebratory business networking event to attend every night of the week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the second week of December my party of choice was the Dane Buy Local holiday social, a gathering of local business owners in Madison, WI.
For many of us at that event, the operating word was “social.” It struck me that most of the people I spoke to, though originally met as business contacts, have become friends. For most of the evening, I felt like I was gabbing with my girlfriends, just like I would at a birthday or Halloween party at one of their homes (which I have attended). We talked about relationships, personal growth, families, health … and, well, even a smattering of business (but not much).
This sort of socializing was not what I ever would have predicted when I first became a “businesswoman.”
When I first started my business, I thought I needed to keep my communications to business. But it wasn’t long before I learned that revealing my personality and just the right amount of my personal life in my communications created relationships that drew people into my sphere. Here’s what Joan Stewart, media consultant and author of the online newsletter, “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week,” says about the subject:
On sites like Facebook and Twitter, the social networking conversation should include your personal and business lives. Sharing information about things like your pets, hobbies and special interests will endear you to those who are following you. When the time comes to use these sites to discuss a new product, your followers will be more receptive because they’ll feel they already know something about you.
Revealing personal information endears people in person too.
More and more, in my networking meetings and coffee dates, I share about my personal life: my quirky beliefs in astrology, my uncharacteristic interest in reality TV, my dietary choices, and my relationships. I have yet to have anyone respond with anything but delight that we were able to share on a deeper level than they expected.
The same goes with clients. My biggest fans and repeat clients are people I’ve talked to about personal topics, not just their writing projects. It’s human nature to trust and want to interact with people who know us for all aspects of our personalities and lives.
I’m not planning to post a profile photo of me and my Chihuahua any time soon (even if I do acquire one, which is very unlikely). But I will likely keep talking about kale, The Bachelorette, and maybe even conversations with my mother, for the foreseeable future. Woody Allen quotes and pictures of my family will show up on my Facebook page. And while I’ll talk business at networking events, business will most definitely not be all I talk about.
Life is so much more fun and engaging this way! And at this time of year—and really all year ‘round—that’s what it’s all about.