Unlike many of my married, male friends, I do a fair amount of the household grocery shopping.
Not because I’m so wonderful, mind you (although I am distractingly good looking).
Rather, it’s because years ago, as a first-time father, I realized that a trip to the grocery store came packaged with 60 minutes of diaper-free peace and quiet.
And so, all these years later, it’s still an activity I share with my wife, Linda.
But, as you’ve probably noticed, grocery shopping today is a totally different experience than it was just a few short weeks ago.
Part of that, of course, is because of the new procedures that have been put in place:
The aisles are all “one-way.”
The checkout lines are marked with tape on the floor, spaced six feet apart.
The cashiers stand behind plexiglass.
But, as different as they are, those kinds of things are not really what makes today’s experience feel so alien.
After all, grocery shopping in another country also tends to come with its own set of logistical rules and norms. But even with a language difference, it all still feels remarkably familiar.
What’s fundamentally different now are the masks and social distancing, something that creates what my friend Brad calls an “emotionless experience.”
Nobody smiles. Nobody chats. Nobody touches anyone else.
It’s like visiting your in-laws, minus the questions about when you intend to get a “real job.”
Grocery shopping was never high on my list of fun things to do. But now, suddenly, with the social aspect gone, leaving nothing behind but the mechanics of finding what you need and putting it in your cart, it has become an exceedingly boring chore.
And even though I arrive home with more or less the same items as before, I would happily drive further and pay more to get the old experience back.
Business is a Social Activity
Nobody signs up for your newsletter because they want to hear a story about your children.
Nobody registers for your presentation with the hope that they will see a picture of your dog.
Nobody subscribes to your podcast to hear the cheesy intro music you’ve chosen.
And yet, when you leave all that stuff out – because you’re a serious businessperson talking to serious businesspeople about serious business topics – you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Rather, you are building an emotionless grocery store: Functional, useful, maybe even necessary. But lifeless, boring and replaced without a second thought the minute something better comes by.
Definitely not an experience people look forward to, talk about and enjoy.
Here’s the bottom line.
To me, the one thing our current situation has highlighted is how important a role the human, personal, and social aspects of business play.
So sure, you need to be capable and qualified in order to succeed (Congress being the notable exception).
But the reason you get referred, introduced, hired and word-of-mouthed generally, is because in addition to all that, people like you and feel that they can trust you.
That doesn’t happen because of the books you’ve written, the colleges you’ve attended, or the brand name clients you’ve worked with. We all know highly qualified people that we run from at every networking meeting.
It happens because you’ve somehow managed to break through all the professional blah blah and make an emotional connection.
Pay attention to that, particularly now, and people might be willing to drive further and pay more for you, too.
- What’s your favorite way to hide from young children?
- When do you intend to get a “real job?” Explain.
- What role does emotion play in the way your market your business?