As Dick Roman in Supernatural once said (to Miss Charlene Bradbury), "Your spark. It's one in a million... 'Cause I can feed every fact in your brain into someone else, they still wouldn't be able to beat you."
Business is about relationships, and yet so many professionals treat their employees, co-workers, vendors and customers as commodities they have acquired. Relationships are honest, dynamic, respectful and understanding. You should approach every conversation you have in your business this way - No one and no moment is disposable.
I have a gift for investing in people. Regardless of whether or not I am being paid to talk to you, I am genuinely interested in what brought you to my workplace, why you need my service and even your life story if we have time. My goal with every person I talk to is to make them feel like their time with me is valued. I am the same way with my customers as I am with my friends, family and co-workers - I will go out of my way to help you, whether this is coaching you in how to read Google Analytics or listening to you after your wife has received a cancer diagnosis. I will always give you honest feedback when you ask, about products or about your concerns in how you come across to people. I will back out of a sale before I give you a product you won't be happy with.
This kind of compassionate business approach is quickly losing its grip in our social media influenced world, and I don't understand why. Perhaps it is our newly limited attention spans? Perhaps it is that in an era where everything is available at the touch of our fingertips, we are always focused on the next best thing and overlook opportunities being presented to us? My point is: I go to work with funky nails and differently coloured hair every month. I have a wardrobe that is equally stocked with dress pants and tight jeans. Sometimes I wear rings on every finger, and others I'm muted in a grey pant suit. I get feedback on my eye contact. On my smile. On my ability to remember names, and details like who has just had a baby, or who went to Mexico last month. People want engagement, they want to hear that they were remembered in a positive light and they want to feel like they are your priority.
Personal branding is not just about your brand's image. It's about your brand's ability to interact. When people e-mail you for SEO services, do you send back a standard service list, or do you look at their website ahead of time and personalize some suggestions to what you think will work best for their business goals? If someone rejects your pricing, do you drop correspondence, or do you follow-up to thank them for their initial interest and let them know you are still open to working with them in the future? When someone calls you with questions regarding their account, do you call them back from the car in between meetings, or do you wait until you can give them your full consideration? Small details like this are what make or break your personal brand image. You can have the sleekest landing page around, but if people aren't drawn to you on a personal level they're not going to invest in your success.
Everyone is your most important customer. Everybody you work with has the ability to affect morale and productivity. You depend on your vendors, and should treat them as such. Just as you would surprise someone you love when they've succeeded in something, it's important to celebrate others' milestones at work. It means something if you have the insight to send a customer a personal - not automated - message on their birthday. If your customer of 5 years is having surgery, it's okay to check in with them to ensure they are recovering as expected. It's okay to take your business personally. I encourage it.