It’s a practice I see again and again by direct sellers. A personal presence on social media tools for friends and family, and a separate presence that is “strictly business.” Yet I don’t believe that this is the most effective and efficient use of time.
Part of the beauty of direct sales is the relationship we build with our clients. Unlike a nameless, faceless big box store, our clients get to know, like, and trust us. As a result, we can make specific recommendations for our clients based on our intimate knowledge of the products we have to offer, and our understanding of the client’s needs. It’s what has made direct sales such a powerful sales channel. People like to feel important. We have the opportunity to give that gift.
But that understanding is not a one-way street. It’s not enough for us to know our clients. They also need to know something about us. They need to understand HOW we understand them. For example, if I, as a direct seller, am a mom to 3 kids (which I am), you are much more likely to believe my recommendations if you are also a mom. You know that I understand where you’re coming from.
But when we set up business social media presences that strip the personal out, we deprive our clients of a comfort level that can come with our recommendations. Yes, it’s great to give value-add articles that meet a need for our clients. But if we don’t also give them the opportunity to connect with us on another level, everybody misses out on a deeper relationship.
But then we get to the question: what about privacy? There are parts of me that I want to keep out of business. What do I do about that?
The answer is understanding the difference between PERSONAL information, and PRIVATE information.
Personal information is the facts we share about ourselves that help people connect with us at a deeper level. For example, I share pictures and stories about my kids and my dog, along with my love for cooking. (Check out my Facebook profile for a tip I gave about cookie baking this week.) My parents depend on me to post pictures of the kids, and check Facebook regularly for them. Yes, it helps business people get to know me better. But it also feeds me and the people I love at a personal level.
Private information is that information that we don’t want to whole world to know. So while I share some personal information, I don’t share the names of my kids, their ages, medical conditions, or other data that I don’t think is appropriate. So while I would share that information with my close friends and family, I don’t post it to my social networks. It’s private.
It’s possible to connect with people on a personal level, while still using those same social networking profiles for business. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. And we remain true to those principles of relationship-building that are so important to us in direct sales when we find that middle ground.
What is your opinion? How do you find that balance? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments!
Photo Credit: Nathan O’Nions