Right now, there’s a shift going on. People have had enough with the cold, impersonal corporate relationships. They are fed up with automated messaging, getting passed from person to person, and emails where your name looks like this [INSERT FIRST NAME H].

This shift is happening right under our feet. Can you feel it?

People want to do business with people.

They want to business not with a mindless hive of people but real, honest-to-goodness people who have passion, personality, ideas, and want to speak to you. They want to develop more personal relationship with brands and companies. These relationships are with the people who work there, manning the phones, behind the Twitter account, behind the counter, and out in the field, telling you what they can do for you.

I’ve seen this shift often on LinkedIn. When people check you out on LinkedIn, they don’t want to know about your company or products. They want to know about you. They want to know how you think, what you do, what you dream about, and where you want to go. They want to know how you can help them. It’s personal.

We’re not Pepsi or Coke anymore. We’re more interested in the girl who sold us our soda.

It makes me think of the old Main Street concept.

I know, I’m getting nostalgic here, but bear with me…

There was a time when people would go into town to buy what they need. They’d go to the butcher, dry goods store, pharmacy, bakery, book stores, and other places to get what they needed. They knew the owners because they were their neighbors. People lived in the town that they owned businesses, had personal relationships, knew their customers’ needs, and were part of their lives.

Somewhere we lost that. We became okay with massive behemoth companies putting big box stores that decimated local businesses. We shook our heads in disgust while we secretly checked them out and became customers. Low prices, choice, and convenience won over our concerns. In the end, you’re left with 30 choices for a loaf of bread when all you want to do is make a sandwich. Thanks, Sam Walton.

As technology advances, it’s having this odd effect of bridging this divide that we created between company and consumer and bringing back the personal relationship. People are thoroughly investigating the business and companies they are interested in. They are doing massive amounts of homework before they approach a new business. They want to know everything about the company and forge a relationship with the people who make them coffee, sell them medicine, grow their vegetables, and prepare their meat. Google makes things personal by allowing you to find out whatever you need with just a few keystrokes.

The question is: what are people reading about you and your business? Is it the same old company line, boring business jargon, or is it something engaging?

Or is there nothing?

Remember: Zero results = Zero Reputation.

So get out there and start telling the world how awesome you and what you do are! Yes, it’s a different world. And, yes, it often feels strange to talk about yourself.

But the only way your customers are going to learn about you is if you are talking to them. Step out of your shop and say hi to people as they are passing by… online. LinkedIn. Twitter. Facebook. A website. Pick one and start with it.

Show your customers who you are and why you do what you do. You are unique and you bring something to the table. Tell them what it is.

They don’t want the corporate clones anymore but you need to show them the real person(s) behind you business. Forge that authentic relationship that they are looking for.

Then, when they stroll in to your business, you can say “Hi Jim, what can I do for you today?”