Online Dating & Branding
What do online dating and branding have in common?
Let me lay out a scenario for you.
Swipe, swipe, swipe about 300 times until, astoundingly, you find a potential mate who isn't headless, shirtless, or living 1000 miles away. He's not wearing sunglasses in his profile pic, he's not leaning against a fancy car, and he doesn't have his arm around some chic who could be his mother or his former lover. Things are looking good. He’s brainy, he’s a dog person, he's "spiritual but not religious" and he doesn't use "lol" even once in his description. He's even handsome to boot. It’s a no-brainer--you set up a date.
Then you meet him.
Oh the disappointment. He's appeared to have left his brains at home, chivalry is completely lost on him, he kind of likes puppies but he’s more of a bird guy, and that awesome profile picture he had set up? It was that awesome… twenty years ago.
This is highly disconcerting for a few reasons, and it’s not just because you have to politely sit across the table from this guy for the next hour (lesson learned, stick with a short coffee meeting for the first date). He put on someone he thought you’d like, only for the façade to inevitably fall away in minutes. This happens professionally and personally, and it sucks both times, for one reason. It’s not honest. Cliché or not, honesty is the best policy personally and professionally, because your clients? They’ll see right through you no matter what.
Clients are Super(wo)men. They all--and I mean all--have X-Ray vision. If you’re faking, if you’re putting on some uptight demeanor that you think is “professional” just to give them what you think they want, then that superpower is a bad thing. It means you’re insincere and they know it.
But, if you’re being yourself, your real self, then it’s a great thing! It means that they’ll feel that you’re a real person--which, in this society, is actually quite a big deal. And the best part? You know your ideal client, the one you were trying so hard to attract with your corporate nonsense? If you’re being you, they’ll flock to you without you even trying.
If you’re anything like me, your ideal client (whether you know it or not) is someone you’d buy a drink for, someone you’d take to the movies, heck, someone you’d be fine stuck in traffic with. Those sorts of people aren’t going to be impressed by big, meaningless buzzwords like “synergy” or “mock vortex principle” or the "7 steps to something unbelievable." They’re not even going to be impressed by the “Client is always right, we’re all about our customers” mentality--they can get that anywhere. They’re going to be impressed by you. And the ones that aren’t? They aren’t your ideal clients.
Professionalism is great and all; trust me, I like a man in a sharply tailored suit as much as the next gal. But at the end of the day, that guy is just the vanilla first date who paid for your meal but didn’t warrant a call back.
When we’re talking about branding, let’s get rid of that word “Professional” and replace it with “Personal.” That way, on your first date, you’re finding your soulmates, the clients you really want, whether you knew it or not. And not only that, you’re also giving them a service that they aren’t used to, a service that extends beyond the office into the dinner, drinks, maybe even a friendship. A service that benefits them as much as it benefits you.
That’s why I can tell you to be yourself and not sound like an afterschool special. Don’t believe me? Give it a shot with your friends. I’ll bet that, after an hour of you shouting “infomediaries” into their ears, they’ll be sick of you. They’ll want the real you back. That’s how your clients feel, too.
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