Keeping it real (and personal) in a digitized world

by on June 24, 2016

Personal in businessA little while back I got a letter in the mail. Handwritten and addressed to me. In this day and age of tweets, emails and instant messages, getting a piece of personal mail is a rare and very welcome occurrence!

I thought it might be from a friend. But when I looked more closely, I realized it was from the lovely Sylvia Rosen, Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper (they offer a suite of tools geared towards small biz for managing phone systems). I had helped them out with some video content for their online academy for entrepreneurs and Sylvia had taken the time to write a card (with a coffee voucher tucked in) to thank me for my time and contribution.

With how things are progressing in this digitized world of ours, I’ve been feeling more and more how disconnected and impersonal our interactions have become. We do everything online. And I can’t help but feel that we’ve lost something in the process.

Receiving the card was such a potent reminder of the power of a simple, but profoundly personal gesture in the business world. It gave me a sense of connection with Sylvia that went beyond our online interactions. And it really reflected so well on the company – that they support and allow for their team to do such personal touches and tokens of appreciation. They clearly understand the importance of relationships.

Add personalized touches to your business

So think about how you can bring that dimension of connection to your business with your most important relationships and your customers. How can you show that you care? And that you’re real? It does not have to be complex or expensive.

One way I do this is at Christmas I send handwritten cards to any clients I’ve worked with that year. I choose cards that support a charity that aligns with my values and away I go. I always get comments of appreciation for the gesture.

This is just one example. I would really love to hear yours in the comments.

Use tech to be personal

Of course, you don’t have to forego technology and rely on snail mail and phone calls to get up close and personal in your business dealings. Technology can help us foster relationships too. Send thank yous via email. Use your social media channels to show support or gratitude for others. Respond to people. Be present.

Ruminate on the powerful qualities of appreciation and acknowledgement in personal relationships. And how far they will get you.

Why this matters

Is it just me, or are we as a society becoming all about the gimmee, gimmee? Ready to take, take, take. And we expect so much, without truly understanding the value of what we are getting, let alone being grateful for it.

What I’m trying to get at here is that we have become so disconnected in our digitized world that even common courtesy seems to go out the window at times. We ask for favours from people we don’t know. We don’t say thank you for the efforts of others (I’m sorry, but it does not matter if what they did is just a matter of them doing business – that does not mean they aren’t deserving of appreciation).

But when we go the extra mile and get personal, we show we care. This makes people like and trust us. It helps them remember us. It makes them much more willing to lend us a hand or a show of support in the future.

While of course with our jam packed inboxes and tight schedules, it’s challenging to keep up a constant state of responsiveness. I’m not perfect and I’ve certainly missed the boat on follow-ups and communications. So we do have to remember to cut people slack and not take things personally. I’ve had jobs where I was so overwhelmed and overworked that there was absolutely no way I could respond to all calls or emails. Or perhaps someone has something major happening in their personal life – you really have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes.

But do what you can when you can. It will feel good. It will feel authentic. And you will reap the benefits.

The next time you get another cold call pitch from a perfect stranger or nary a peep from that in-depth proposal you sent over, just let it ride and be grateful for the reminder that relationships matter.

On to you. I’d really love to hear about how you’ve worked personalized touches into your small business. Meet you in the comments!

Image source: | Stuart Miles

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