Over the past two days, I have been touched by the number of people I’ve never met (and a good number who I’ve spend a lot of face-to-face time with) that have sent birthday wishes my way through e-mail greetings and various social media sites (April, 12, 1964, for those who are curious enough to wonder). Most of the cyber buddies are people who share a passion for horses. It is amazing how globally connected we have become with friends we may never physically meet.

Today, I also received a birthday greeting from a site I had not visited. I thought this was a brilliant idea (OK – I’ll give them the plug for their creative use of technology because it did prompt me to visit the site – it’s http://www.horsechitchat.com). I’ve sent them a message asking where they found my name and birthday (it will be interesting to see if they respond – that will say a lot about how serious they are in using technology for engagement). Likely, it was Facebook, or Twitter, or Linked In or Plaxo . . . . It really doesn’t matter where, but I am curious to learn how they are automating this outreach.

Of course, they were clever in how they presented the message – no sales pitch, no link (that would have saved me from having to look up and keystroke the website, but I think it was a good strategy to avoid the overtones of a pitch), no self-directed talk. Just a kind and simple happy birthday wish. Of course, the intent was to drive me to their business site in the hopes of gaining a new customer, but the subtle approach made me feel like I directed the decision to check them out.

With today’s social media, building relationships is becoming more critical than ever. People have never liked an obvious pitch, but now they’re turning to their computer keyboard (or cell phone, or Blackberry or . . .) to tell all when they’re treated rudely. Conversely, good experiences get shouted out in broadcasts to the masses.

It’s not that hard to operate with character and integrity. In fact, today, it’s a lot tougher not to because word spreads quickly and the cost of being called out is immense. The internet also provides great tools for inventive and thoughtful ways to reach out to those who can help bolster your business or personal aims. People are now disclosing information that would have been considered private and tough to get in prior years. They’re easy to find and talk to. It’s about giving before getting, though, and if you want to make social media work for you equine business, be prepared to show you care first, before you ask for business.

How do you reach out through cyber space to make other’s feel special? Please share your brilliance in the comments to this post.

Today, it’s my birthday, so besides crafting this post and focusing on urgent client and vendor deliverables, I’m making it a me day. I’m really looking forward to learning from your input, though, tomorrow.