"To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best."
I wish I could remember whom it was that tweeted that Margaret Thatcher quote. I should have "favorited" (thank you Twitter for turning that into a verb) instead of copying it but whomever you are, thanks for the inspiration for today's post.
There have been more conversations these days about authenticity than I can count. So, I don't want to write about that. And I don't think you want me to write about it either, for that matter.
What is our true north?
I don't quite know the context in which Margaret Thatcher said those words but I'd like to share with you how it is I am interpreting them. She is talking about our essence, our raison d'etre and our internal compasses. And, it's also a comment on how we are focusing too much on the outside without checking in on the inside.
We're hearing a lot these days that we should be engaging directly with customers as much as possible. We hear that we should be talking to them directly, listening to their feedback and acknowledging their support of us. We hear that if we are to do this regularly, then we will improve the relationships but then also improve "word of mouth" as these same customers become our ambassadors of goodwill.
We're told to wear our hearts on our sleeves...
Because it makes good business sense to do so. And I don't disagree. The problem is that of motivation and instinct. What are the reasons why we want to directly engage other than it makes good business sense? What in our gut informs the decision to engage and build relationships? Do we understand and accept the responsibility of the care and feeding of these relationships?
I ask because if our only answers are that it's good for business, your customers and prospects can see right through it. In this post, I shared with you this mantra that we espouse here at 678 Partners:
"My interest is your best interest."
The trick with saying this, though, is that you have to mean it. And by meaning it, you have to walk the talk at all times. It can't be half hearted, it can't be superficial and it can't be bare bones. Here are some reasons why:
- Opportunity Cost: Even if you're doing something halfway, it takes time, effort and energy away from other things that need your attention. If you can't commit 100% to direct engagement, please don't bother. Find other ways to surprise and delight your customers within your means and you'll go farther.
- Tacky Factor: If you want to be taken seriously, don't leave things on your site or Facebook page from 6 months ago. It's the equivalent of putting plastic on your sofa in 2011. We did it in the 70s but we don't do that today.
- Sincerity Matters: You have to wear your heart on the inside. When you operate with your heart as your guide as opposed to your head or your HP financial calculator, people are instinctively drawn to you.