I tend to obsess about online presentation. Whether it’s business speak or replies on Twitter, I am fully aware that every time I “publish” anything it may be read by future clients. Here is an example of why that’s so important.
Yesterday I received a phone call from someone here in Springfield, Missouri. They had been put in touch with me via a mutual contact and called to ask about building a website. I gladly took the call, got out my pen and paper, and prepared for the toughest part of every freelancer’s day; talking with a potential client.
The voice on the other side of the line was easy going, experienced, and eager to learn. I had sent them my standard, “Here’s my business, here’s what I do, here’s my phone number” email just a day earlier, having a few examples in a simple one-page page presentation of things I am proud to have worked on.
Imagine my surprise when they opened with the following statement:
“You’re way too slick for my little website. You have a business, I’m taking up way too much of your time on this call.”
I have to admit, that comment was a little fun to hear, because I have worked really hard to build something worth viewing online. That said, I knew there had to be more to the story.
This is Business
Your job as a business person, whether freelance or otherwise, is doing great work regardless of who is watching. I love the phrase, “Truth is Undefeated” because it always manages to ring true despite any efforts to thwart it.
I am nearing a scary point in my life; soon I will have been online longer than I ever was offline. Part of my “mission” when working with the tools of our day is to uphold the values I was given as a child, even in the wild west of our always-on age. If this ever lapses as a primary part of what I do, who I am, or what people know about me, I will consider it a terrible loss.
Think about it: Any time you do business, whether online or at the supermarket, someone can see something about your values. I am not a designer, but there are a lot of hours invested in the content I put on my site(s), which hopefully conveys my desire to do great work. Every interaction with every person everywhere should also reflect those commitments.
That caller and I just had lunch together, where I was able to take a few moments to share some of the tricks I’ve learned in 8+ years of working with WordPress. This is what I use for my work every day; by some strange twist of providence, now he will be able to use it for work as well.
He still isn’t quite sure that his newborn site warrants our meeting, but I’m convinced. Having a mirrored set of values offline and online go a long way to meaningful interactions with people in either space.