We talk a lot about professionalism and it's got me to thinking, "What IS professionalism and who gets to decide what that even means???" I don't have research to support what I'm about to say, but I'm going to say it anyway: I think it likely comes from the patriarchy considering they are historically and most often the ones in charge in professional settings. I'm guessing women wearing suits came from the fact that MEN WEAR SUITS and we are trying to get in the game and have a voice and play by the rules whenever/wherever possible. I mean, I love a good pantsuit, but I'm just saying... where did these things come from? Why are pantsuits the thing we associate with professionalism?
As I began my business back in December of 2017 (Oh the good 'ole days... jk), I had many a man try to tell me (lovingly and supportively) what I SHOULD be doing to run my business effectively. Someone told me, "You need to join networking groups". Another one told me, "You should have deliverables". Another one arbitrarily told me I would feel good about my business once I had, "$50,000 in savings" (???). Talk about deflating my balloon fast. It'll be a while before that happens... Yet another said, "Listen, IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE A REAL CONSULTANT you need to... blah, blah" to which I replied, "If I'm 'GOING TO BE'??? I already am, asshole." PS - I don't condone name-calling. But sometimes I do actually. But don't. But only if necessary.
Anyhow... POINT BEING: there's a lot of ideas out there about how things should be and I'm thinking I want to re-write those rules for myself. I'm going to wear what I want to wear. I'm going to talk like I normally talk and not in my "super-smart-professional-voice" because it makes people feel like I know what I'm doing. I know what I'm doing. I promise. I'm not going to change my voice so you feel that more. I'm going to text my clients sometimes because they've said it's ok to do so and you know what? We're close like that. We stay connected and text is part of that for some of them. Sometimes I say, "I love you" to clients before I hang up the phone and sometimes they say it to me first! In fact, just the other day a client said, "I love you" before hanging up the phone and I responded in like. My son asked me, "Who are you talking to???" I said, "A client and friend" and he looked at me incredulously, "And you said I LOVE YOU?" He's six. He's SIX years old and he already has an idea of traditional professionalism.
I'm going to take selfies with my clients. I'm going to share appetizers with them. I'm going to recommend a good therapist when needed. I'm going to be a FRIEND. I'm going to be MYSELF. When my clients ask me, "Should I purchase this or that from you?" I sometimes say, "I don't think you need that right now. I think you can tackle that yourself." I do this because I'm always going to tell them the truth so that down the road when they ask me a questions they'll know that I'm telling them the truth. I don't tell people what they want to hear. I tell them (with love) what I would tell a friend. Sales is not racking up money with a line of pissed off customers behind you. Sales is service. It's finding a need and then offering an appropriate solution. I can do that without wearing a pantsuit and refusing to friend my clients on Facebook. I can do that in a way that feels authentic to who I am - even if that's not traditional.
Today I was gathering together some new client gifts (I always send clients a little present at the end of our time together) and realized it's probably not super common to send clients a pack of unicorn gum and fake tattoos with their Starbucks gift card and then I reminded myself, "People work with you because they like YOU. BE YOU." and I packed those little gifts up and sent them on their way.
Let's do business like we want to - not the way we're told to. You in?
PS - Image above is of my client, Michelle Thomas, who is an actual dream client and the founder of Omland - I've totally toasted cocktails with her for an IG boomerang post during one of our meetings. So yea. Real profesh.