I had just started as the firm’s director of business development. Understanding that my success would largely depend upon my ability to win over the trust and respect of my attorneys, I immediately went to work initiating relationships, starting with the “big guns” who occupied the corner offices.
As I made my rounds, I was particularly cognizant of Jerry, a senior partner who also served on the firm’s governing committee.
My conversations with Jerry had been strictly business. It was clear that he wasn’t particularly interested in me. In his mind, the jury was out as to the value I could provide him in building his law practice.
On a whim, I invited Jerry and his wife to a Fourth of July celebration I was hosting at my home. I didn’t expect them to attend, but thought the invitation would demonstrate goodwill on my part. Much to my surprise, he accepted.
As the day arrived, I was a bit apprehensive about Jerry’s attendance. If the party were a success, it would provide an opportunity for us to connect on a personal level, which could positively influence our working relationship. If the party were a bust, Jerry would have a specific reason to discount my abilities.
Little did I know I had an untapped resource at my disposal. When Jerry and his wife arrived to my home, my dog Major, greeted them at the door. Their eyes lit up with delight–Jerry and his wife were animal lovers. Who knew that a seemingly insignificant aspect of my personal life would turn out to be the factor needed to connect with Jerry.
As I speak to various groups of professionals on personal branding, the issue of “how much of one’s personal life should be introduced into the business context” always surfaces. For years, the paradigm has been for professionals to create a clear divide between business and personal, depriving business activities and relationships of all personality.
With an abundance of experienced professionals to fulfill just about any business need, clients and prospects seek non-business ways to connect.
Consider leveraging aspects of your personal life that will make you memorable and distinguish you from others in your industry. It may be your affinity for wine, the opera, or travel. Perhaps it’s your involvement in a non-profit organization, as the coach of your son’s little league team, or where you were raised. Ultimately, it’s the ability to connect on a personal level that may win you the business opportunity.
Albert Einstein once said, “We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”
Jonathan Fitzgarrald is Managing Partner of Equinox Strategy Partners. For nearly two decades, he has coached and trained service professionals on how to drive revenue and increase market visibility. He can be reached at 424.377.3200 or Email.