47 of 100 Family and Friends Come First
We had a family issue a few weeks back and it required that I cancel an afternoon customer meeting to handle things. In the past, I would have sidestepped the real reason for cancelling a customer meeting. I've stopped doing that. When a personal matter interrupts something related to my business, without going into unnecessary details, I tell it like it is.
What I have noticed is it's built a tighter relationships with a few of my customers. My father has dementia. It's a struggle for our family and especially for Mom. Because I mentioned it to one of my customers, she now checks in with me about that every once in a while. It's a kind gesture and I appreciate that. I have another customer whose husband passed away after years fighting a similar condition. She and I now have this in common. She shares with me advice and ideas about it when she can.
We are human. We have personal and emotional needs. Because of my career track in corporate America, I worked at keeping my business and personal life separate. Now that I run my own business, I've realized that isn't necessary. I probably wasn't before either. I cannot be an emotional wreck in business, but I don't have to be a robot pretending I have no emotions, no family, no friends and no other things that make me who I am.
It fit this nicely into my branding too. If you visit my website About Us page, you'll see some very old family pictures. I share my cultural past, introducing my family back to my grandfather and grandmother. For me it explains the legacy that I've inherited from these people and what it means for my business. In my case, it shows our work ethic, commitment to doing the right thing, and our promise to doing what we say we are going to do.
I have to remind myself that people do business with people not with businesses. How many times does a banker leave one bank to work for another and customers follow them to the next place. They had no loyalty to the corporate entity. They had loyalty to their person there.
Note to self: Let the real you shine through.