Is It Business or Personal?

A Collage of Memorabilia from My Career

I was a producer for Eddie Andelman, “The Dean of Sports Talk Radio”, in Boston after I got out of college. Yes, for those of you in Boston old enough to remember, I am “that” Lou – (aka Lou, Lou, Lou). My job as producer was to call agents, athletes, celebrities and noteworthy business people to come on the show and join Eddie in conversation. Most of the people I had never met before, so quite often it was the ultimate cold call. Getting folks to come on the radio to talk about themselves may seem like an easy task, but it was not. It took complete persistence, but more than that, the potential guests had to feel comfortable with me and trust that it would be a positive experience.

This was back in the late eighties, so we did not have e-mail, Google or any of the tools that we have at our fingertips today to make connecting with folks easy and efficient. We had the trusty, old, fully wired phone.

The basic problem was that when I made the call, I never knew who I was going to get on the other end. Sometimes I’d get an assistant, but other times it was a spouse, or even a child. No matter who picked up the phone, I would more often than not be asked, “Is this business or personal?” It’s no big surprise that when I actually knew the person and answered, “personal” that the response would be more friendly and helpful. When it was the prior response, the reception was a bit more cold or “business-like.” I didn’t like the “business” response, and the results were never as good. It was too awkward. So, I decided I was going to make every call personal in one manner or another. I made a point of creating a relationship, on some level, with everyone who answered the phone.

I realized that the more I reached out to others, the more they knew about me and the better the call went. So, I would give up little pieces of information about myself and collect little pieces of information about them. This was just with the folks answering the phone – not even the person I needed to ultimately speak with. But it was obvious; the more they knew about me, the more they would be comfortable telling me stuff about themselves and about the person I was trying to connect with.

I just recently read a blog post by Chris Brogan about how to use LinkedIn effectively. He stated that you should not to link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account because you “tweet” things that will not directly help your business, and LinkedIn is designed for business interaction.  He had a lot of great tips, as he usually does, but this one thing just didn’t quite sit right with me. It seemed to me as if he was advocating to only update with business-specific items on LinkedIn, and to never make it personal (although he never actually stated that). His comments inspired me to write this post, because I believe there’s an important distinction.

I absolutely agree with Chris that if you use Twitter to declare that you burped the alphabet with your buddies, then it doesn’t make any sense to link Twitter to LinkedIn. But, if you provide personal information that allows folks to think of you in a positive light, and feel closer to you on personal level, then I think that it is more than okay. To forge unbreakable business relationships, you must get personal, at some level, with business contacts. The more they know about you, the more connected they will feel to you. I’m not promoting that you take incredible risks and tell folks every intimate detail about yourself. That quite often happens on Twitter, and why I assume Chris recommends you don’t link the two together. However, there is some level of personal information that makes perfect sense, and actually helps you obtain more business.

I have been on LinkedIn for four years. I never interacted, and never typed in an update until I linked Twitter to my LinkedIn account. Once I did, I began getting comments quite often; mostly about the personal stuff I wrote, and especially the items about my kids. I have had 12 requests for meetings and calls derived from my personal comments just this month alone.  The fact of the matter is, that people are more comfortable doing business with you if they know you and trust you.

Social media is clearly an unbelievable tool to help you build relationships. Utilize it in a real and honest way, and you will have very favorable results. Don’t be afraid to connect in a personal way with all of your connections, friends and followers – just use your head when you share personal information.

In fact, not to outright disagree with Chris, because his rule of thumb is prudent for most folks, but I might say that you should link your Twitter account to LinkedIn. Because then, it will cause you to use some discipline in what you tweet; because, let’s face it, it’s not like business associates and potential clients and bosses can’t find them. Just saying…

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *