Why birthdays matter for business

small__6967029762Particularly with the advent of social media, people’s personal and business lives are coming closer and closer together. Birthday greetings are no longer restricted to friends and family; friendship and camaraderie go way beyond that now. It’s lovely, but it needs to be managed with courtesy and consideration.

I write this the day after my, er, 39th birthday (again) yesterday. I have been overwhelmed by literally hundreds of birthday messages on the social media, via email, text, plus dozens of hard-copy cards and more. I am truly humbled and feel I don’t deserve all this, but I sure as hell appreciate it.

Even on Google I was astounded to see, when I clicked on the search page, that it was wishing me Happy Birthday with some cute graphics. Really helped to make my day although of course I know it’s all about software, algorithms and number crunching with not a human being in sight.

So, I can hear you ask, what do these “happy birthday” messages mean when all people have to do is look on their Facebook home page to see whose birthdays it is on any particular day? Or their Google Plus page? And then type in a standard “happy birthday” message and move on to the next one?

People care: whether they’re business contacts or not

I know how I approach the daily Facebook list of birthdays. If it’s people I know well, I send them a “happy birthday” message with a word or two to personalize it. If it’s someone I only know via the social media and not face-to-face, it will just be a “happy birthday.”

Other social media platforms are taking up the birthday trend, like Google Plus for example – who cleverly provides you with a convenient list of people who have wished you Happy Birthday from your circles, communities, pages, etc.

Even to the most cynical among us, birthdays matter. Come on: they happen once in 365 days. If they didn’t matter there wouldn’t be a huge industry involved with selling birthday cards, gifts, cakes, party favors, balloons, etc. It’s annual celebration that’s all about YOU.

So how does celebrating birthdays matter to business?

No matter how much you may divide your personal life away from that of your business, if you have provided your date of birth to any online database – especially within the social media sphere – your birthday will get flagged up somewhere, somehow.

Some people who insist on remaining tightly private will avoid giving away this information. But let’s be honest here. If you’re looking someone up on, say, LinkedIn or Facebook and you find that they reveal absolutely nothing about their personal selves, even to their “friends,” what does that make you think? I don’t know about you, but I wonder why they give so little away about themselves. Are they trustworthy? Why are they refraining from giving away a bit of social information – after all, that’s the idea behind social media?

We’re not talking the Spanish Inquisition here. The social media don’t force you to give your age away unless you want to. All you have to reveal is the day and date. And this provides you and your SocMed contacts with a warm, friendly way of connecting and indirectly reinforcing your business relationship.

small_3274252858What should you say?

Well, certainly on Facebook and other platforms where you’re likely to get a number of birthday wishes, you need to thank every single person for their kind thoughts. I spent a lot time on the day thanking each and every one of these people individually – over 200 of them.

Others in my shoes might just have posted a universal message saying something like “hey, guys, thank you all for your lovely messages – much appreciated.” But think about it. If someone takes the trouble to wish you a Happy Birthday, surely you can find 10 seconds or so to thank them personally?

Let’s not be too commercial here, but…

Everyone says that building relationships whether online or offline is key to developing your business and social stability in our current times. They’re not wrong.

Quite apart from the main reason – good manners – why you should thank people for their kind wishes, if there is a business connection it’s important, too, that they realize you’re a polite and appreciative human being.

With business today being increasingly about building trust, respect and good relationships (and with those relationships becoming increasingly social), birthdays and the goodwill they generate matter more than ever.

Do you agree? Or not? Please share your views!

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photo credit: DonkeyHotey via photopin cc
photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via photopin cc