It’s Business. Not Personal.

Take a stand.

Two very different companies once had rather similar slogans:

It’s not business, it’s personal. (law firm)

It’s personal. (meaning: It’s not business.) (bank)

In each case, the slogan was designed to reference a close, even intimate, working relationship. Some clients prefer to be reassured and reminded, on a frequent basis, that a vendor or partner has their interests top of mind at all times.

Consider that what is personal from a client’s perspective may not be reciprocal. Many clients think primarily of themselves and may have a limited interest in the individual private lives of their contacts.

Copywriter Deirdre Rienzo wrote about her dog in her newsletter and invited subscribers to send photos of their pets. The response was overwhelming.

LinkedIn coach John Nemo recommended sharing “something personal from your non-work life . . . once or twice a day as part of your LinkedIn status updates.”

Let me be blunt. I do not care about your pet, the (extra) ordinary exploits of your progeny or your awesome (tiresome) visit to Nepal.

As I commented to Nemo and Rienzo, if there is a business lesson to be gleaned, then summarize and explicate it. Otherwise, I will look elsewhere for inspiration and connection. I might even unsubscribe to your newsletter. The reader’s attention is yours to lose.

Following this guideline, here is the takeaway: a business consultant in North Carolina read Nemo’s post and agreed with my response. She contacted me, and we chatted about our respective practices. A few weeks later, she referred a client to me.

It was Business. Not Personal. That’s how I began working with a former CIO on an article about lessons learned from implementing enterprise technology to improve performance.

This Month’s Tip

Think: What’s the earth-shattering news about your morning coffee? People who announce on social media where and with whom they have consumed a breakfast drink flabbergast me. Can you specify the value-added information or societal significance of your inability to prepare a hot beverage at home? Alternatively, invite me to sample one with you, so we can become better acquainted and consider ways to work together.


Where do you draw the line between business and personal in your Communications? Contact me at, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s clarify where the boundaries are.

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