Compared to all other things technology, which I usually embrace early, I was a late adopter of Facebook. The reason is I don’t prefer to be very social. I’m busy and tend to be selfish with what free time I have.
But then one day I surmised that because of this very realization, Facebook could be ideal. I could be social without physically being social. With Facebook, I could be social without leaving home or even picking up the telephone.
That was a few months ago. Now I love it. It’s my favorite social network. And although I belong to Twitter, LinkedIn and Friendfeed, and utilize YouTube and have this blog, Facebook is, hands down, my platform of choice for “life-streaming.” It’s where I go to post all of my most meaningful updates, including simple thoughts or videos and photos related to my family, friends and travel.
This doesn’t make me special. Facebook is the most popular social network right now. For crying out loud, my parents are now on Facebook, as is one of my Grandmas, and she’s 85 years old! You know the saying, “Everybody’s doing it.”
But, I digress. This post is about how our relationships can benefit from Facebook’s biggest strength: the personal profile. Sure, with Facebook we can learn about the personal side of our friends and family. But that’s not all. Now, we can also connect more personally to our business partners and colleagues.
I am Facebook friends with some of the tourism clients we work with.
For example, I know that John, the marketing director of my favorite ski resort, Grand Targhee, in Alta, WY, is a die-hard Red Sox fan and that he loves ice hockey. I know he has two kids who are about the same ages as two of our sons. I know he moved to the Idaho side of the Tetons to take the marketing helm at Grand Targhee following a similar position for Colorado ski resorts a little over a year ago. (BTW, I can’t help myself. I might mention here that Grand Targhee is my favorite place in the world to ski and snowboard. I learned to ski there, our kids learned to ski there and it has the best powder anywhere. But that’s another post.)
I am Facebook friends with Eric, the marketing director of the Salt Lake City Convention & Visitors Bureau. As a result of this connection, I know that he’s not only an avid cyclist, but a pretty darned high level one. I know he likes yoga, and I know a little bit about his familyincluding that his son has the same name as our youngest son. I have learned he’s into endurance biking and bike racing and has a good line on interesting events my husband, Jerry, and I will want to consider in the future.
Another long-time client I am Facebook friends with was diagnosed with cancer this past summer. Thankfully, he’s doing remarkably well following treatment, and his prognosis is good. But I’m grateful to my Facebook connection with him because it enabled me to keep updated on his health in a more personal way and enabled me to reach out in a more personal way to let him know he was in our thoughts, and to ask him if there was anything we could do to help. I also came to learn he recently got married. This is all stuff I felt lucky to know given this is a business customer I care about.
All of these insights help me shape a conversation that is no longer limited to “do you want to do business with us?” Thank goodness we may have more to talk about and form a relationship around than only the business at hand. We are people, after all, with meaningful lives. Certainly, we can serve our partners and customers better if we know them better personally, right? Plus, thanks to Facebook, I know when to wish a client Happy Birthday. That’s pretty cool.
Of course, this means we need to be on our best behavior. In the current social media landscape that we’re operating in, we don’t have the luxury of having two personas, one for our personal life and another for work. Our personal and work lives are increasingly blurred. As Erik Qualman so aptly reminds us in his great book, Socialnomics, when it comes to social media, one needs to “live your life as if your mother is watching.”
In the old days, if we were lucky, we’d get a face-to-face appointment with our prospective client. It was during this meeting, while seated in our client’s office, that we could take note of family photos, trophies, certificates, posters, artwork, or other items on display, in an effort to try and get a glimpse of the “person” we were dealing with. It wasn’t much, but it was valuable.
Today, Facebook provides that, and more.