Balancing Human-ness and the Ego in Business

In the last few weeks I’ve noticed the struggle for the expression of the individual identity in my business dealings, meetings and on social media outlets. Or perhaps as I move through my own personal challenges, it’s something more apparent just to me. Whatever the reason, this blog topic was screaming at me to be expressed. Although it’s a bit different than what I normally cover I couldn’t ignore it. Or perhaps, I just wanted to get a better sense of how others feel about it, too.

The “Self” in your Business

Knowing who you are is important, and being clear on how that ties into the big picture is essential to seeing how you fit into your business community — personally or online. But when does connection and community become more about actually connecting, and not about building a list of potential names you can bombard with your latest offering?

I’m recognizing more and more how folks are fighting to push their individuality out into the world, and that is great — I applaud people for having the courage to share their unique ideas and creativity with a bigger audience. Where is starts feeling icky is when the ideas, products or seminars are created with a guise of wanting to “help” others. In reality, these business folks just selected the right string of SEO words to snag a target demographic and boom — instant interest.

You may even experience this in your own sphere, as people push methods, systems, processes and classes that will “change your life” and get you on track with your business, home life or spiritual practice. Now, don’t get me wrong. Some offers are legit and truly helpful. I have experienced some myself recently, and I’m so grateful for the insight they have provided.

However, there are also many folks using the social media model of an online community to push their own wares first, and connect with people second.

Real power of a business lies in connecting with people first. Then all of the other “pushing” is unnecessary. People stay tuned. They WANT to know about your latest product or service and are looking for ways to enhance your existing relationship. It’s genuine and welcome.

To me, the most obvious example of this is Zen Leo Babuta created a site that talked about topics related to the human condition, and followers showed up because it was authentic. Real. Honest. People weren’t being sold on anything, but people felt compelled to connect because there was something that was of value that they could apply to their own lives. With a built in fan base, he was able to create products he knew people would already be interested in.

The Slippery Slope of the Human Connection in Business

There is a very fine line between being human and connecting with your human-ness. As a human being there are basic things you have come to expect when interacting with others, things we all deal with because we are facing similar life experiences. We connect with this sense of universal relation and create sort of a “situation relation” bond. However, I feel the next step is to take that understanding and mutual relation and use it to connect with someone beyond the surface, beyond what you want for yourself out of the exchange.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s ESSENTIAL for entrepreneurs to promote their products and services to each other. It’s how we stay in business (I’m one myself). But it’s also critical for entrepreneurs to create those one-on-one connections to establish credibility, to connect with the actual, real human needs of that one person to help them in a way that inspires them to be the best at their gifts, and then they can then share that same respect and approach with others.

When you make it about how you can help an individual grow and support themselves in a new way, AND offer a high quality product or service on a universal level, the reward is the inner knowing that what YOU do is valuable beyond the products or seminar you just sold. It’s about tapping into the essence of true community to make a much more significant impact through authenticity, that touches and elevates the performance of clients as much as it puts money in our pockets. It also feels a heck of a lot more awesome.

Photo by benjaminasmith on Flickr