Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Balance In Business

This post has been on my mind for a while now and the time has come to write it. Every business owner knows how important it is to promote and grow their business, without doing so would likely cause the doors to close. Is it possible that too much promotion could turn people off as well? I think so.

Social media has opened so many doors for small businesses and entrepreneurs to reach the masses for darn near free. Sites like facebook, LinkedIn and twitter (to name just a few) are connecting average Joe's like me to CEO's of major companies and dialogue is happening. That's exciting! The problem as I see it, is this social media arena is still so new that people don't know how to do it. Oh sure, they can create an account and post about their business, but they don't know that etiquette applies in the social media arena just like it does in the face-to-face world. It's possible that it's even more important because it's so much easier (and faster) for someone to "unfriend," "unfollow," or disconnect from you. It's my opinion that you have to mix some of who you are personally with what it is you do for a living because if you don't why not just have a web site? The whole point of social media is that it's social - to me, that errors on the side of personal. As my good friend and social media expert Kevin DeSoto says, "You have to humanize your brand." How can you do that in the social media arena if you aren't getting a little bit personal?

The other piece of this equation for me is that people who used to be my personal friends are so caught up in their online presence, that they simply don't communicate with me on a personal level anymore. At first I figured we must not have really been friends to begin with, but that's not the case. There seems to be some prestige in the number of friends or followers that one has, but nary a "Hello! How are you?" comes across the line to those of us who really are their friends. A personal e-mail comes only to ask about a charitable donation, or to share with me how the class they have for sale is right up my alley! It only costs this many thousand dollars and of course, there is a commission to my "friend" when I register.

Here's my thought, why don't we have one online place for our business and another for our personal interactions? People who want to be a part of your business will be there and that's not to say they can't be your friends, too. When it's time to stop working, stop working - on facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, at the restaurant, or at home on the phone. Put your iPhone away when you are sitting with live bodies who are there to be with you. Connect with these people and share something personal, something that you wouldn't necessarily share at your place of business.

Utilize these amazing tools to enhance and grow your business, but come back to the smaller, more intimate circle of the people you love. Finding balance in business is knowing when to go all out and land that big account and when to hang the "Closed" sign and go home - virtually or literally. Just my two cents.

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