Insider Exclusive: When Professional Contacts Get Personal

Insider Exclusive: When Professional Contacts Get Personal

Get strategic with social media to grow your business

By Sima Dahl

It happens every single time, without fail. Whenever I deliver a keynote or corporate training program on personal branding and social selling, one of the very first questions I am asked is, “How do I keep my professional and personal contacts separate?” My answer, also without fail, is, “Why would you want to?”

If you’re like many of the business owners and entrepreneurs I meet, you see your personal page on Facebook as the way to connect with friends and your LinkedIn profile as the place for professional contacts. But networks, by their very design, are fluid entities. When we attempt to apply restrictions and control affiliation, we prevent the normal movement of its members … the natural flow that makes having a large and engaged network so valuable.

Social platforms give us an unprecedented degree of speed and reach and put the process of staying connected on hyper-drive. Studies show we’re no longer “six degrees of separation” from one another—we’re now closer to two. And why does this matter? Because people buy and refer from people they know, like, and trust. And because your personal brand is an extension of your business brand, by remaining visible in the social stream with on-brand status updates and engaging behavior, you’re better able to reach the people you want through the people you already know.

Let’s look at an example. Say that you and I are both members of the local chamber of commerce, discover we have a lot in common, and become friends on Facebook. Or perhaps our kids play soccer together, and we connect on LinkedIn. Then I see you post something about trends in designing tours for senior citizens, and I am reminded that the retirement village where my mom now resides is planning some trips for the next fiscal year. Sound incredulous? That is precisely how it works. And when my mom sends me a selfie of her stomping grapes in Napa, I share it, tagging and thanking you.

When I first joined Facebook, many old high school friends came out of the woodwork to “friend” me. You know the people I’m talking about … you can barely remember who they were then, let alone now. But I accepted their requests and didn’t give it another thought. A few years later I started my own business, and guess what? Someone I haven’t seen since 1985 referred me to some new business that to this date is the largest consulting project I ever signed. How did he know what a good business opportunity for me looked like? An occasional status update is all it takes to enlist every Facebook “friend” into your virtual sales team!

Bottom line? It doesn’t matter where people first meet you or where you stay connected; what matters is that they come to know, like, and trust you—that they become your personal brand champions who send opportunities your way.

Personal brand or business brand? Private friend or professional connection? I argue that for go-getters, they are one in the same.

Sima Dahl is an international speaker and corporate trainer who shares her Sway Factor™ system for personal branding, social networking, and social selling success. You can learn more at and find her on the most popular social platforms as @SimaSays. 

About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.


Melanie Hinton, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, ABA
Office: (202) 218-7220
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