Around this time of year millions of children around the world start behaving just a little bit better. Why? Because they have parents who remind them on a regular basis that "Santa Claus is watching..." The not-so-subtle threat is to behave, or risk not getting any Christmas presents. Drew McClellan points out the same holds true for business owners. He uses an example of his own trip to a local Jiffy Lube to remind companies of the need to act as if someone is always watching.

Drew writes:

I pulled into a Jiffy Lube to get my oil changed. The guys had the bay doors closes to keep out the wind.

Just as I was about to knock on the window, I heard the very annoyed manager ripping into the employee standing next to him, "I don't give a %$#* if you need to..."

He then turned, saw me and came out with a big smile on his face. A little late for that.

Drew points out "you're always on stage." While it's good the Jiffy Lube manager came out to greet him with a smile on his face, the damage had already been done. Once you've seen someone treating an employee with that level of distain, it's hard to believe they'll go out of their way to treat you properly. You also have to wonder how motivated the employees are to do their job if that's the type of conversation going on behind the scenes.

These days the idea that "you're always on stage" extends even further.

As social media begins to mix business with pleasure and more and more networking takes place on sites like Facebook, MySpace and Linked In, business professionals are finding two worlds mixing. Personal blogs and personal profiles aren't hard to track down. These days, your actions or words on a hobby site can end up impacting the business deal you're trying to close. The Internet has done amazing things for how people communicate with each other, but in doing so, it's removed the walls that used to separate each area of our lives.

Small businesses rarely have public relations firms and corporate lawyers pounding "reputation" into their brains. It can be easy to forget that what's said in one environment can migrate into another.

Just as that manager at Jiffy Lube may wish Drew hadn't heard his tirade, so too may you be embarrassed to find you lost a business deal because of something written on your personal blog.

Thanks to the Internet, we're always on stage. Are you acting like it?

December 10, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


C'mon, Jennifer... "destain"? Destain is what you use to color and protect dewood on dedeck... try "disdain"... got me John. My spell check didn't pick it up, as it's a real word.

This is the peril of being a professional writer who can't spell. ;) If spell check lets me down, I'm up a crick. (Also spelled "creek" if you don't happen to live in the midwest...)

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