Politics and Business: Mix at Your Own Risk

Wendy Keneipp on September 08, 2020

Each election season is full of opportunities to talk about candidates, parties, platforms, and issues.

No matter which side you’re on, talking politics is bound to stimulate emotionally charged responses and debates. People want to jump on board to support their preferred party and issues, which is part of our great American system.

Our political process requires us to review the issues, form an opinion, and take a stand for what we believe. The same goes for being an advisor. Being able to review multiple options, make an informed decision, and offer an opinion is critical to being a quality advisor to clients. It’s a skill that needs to be honed to be successful, especially as we’re moving to a knowledge and advice-driven model.

Walk that fine line

The tricky part of this dynamic is understanding and distinguishing between personal beliefs and the role your business plays with clients and prospects. And the new normal has more people working from home and more people discussing and viewing politics on social media. That means whatever politics you discuss on your company Twitter is front and center.

Getting on your political soapbox and using your company’s social media as a bully pulpit is where the tide turns from being an active political citizen to painting your company in a negative light.

It’s essential to recognize that as a business owner or a broker, you work with clients that have a broad range of views. These views might not align with yours. Understanding this and responding appropriately can go a long way in securing business.

On the flip side, if your opinions and communication consistently maintain an “us vs. them” tone, and your recommendations are rooted in political bias, you run a couple of risks for your business:

  1. The first risk is offending or alienating clients with differing beliefs or those who prefer to leave politics out of the office. Clients or prospects who disagree with you, or feel pressured by you, may choose to take their business where they feel more aligned or don’t have to deal with the pressure of the politics.
  2. The second risk, and perhaps the most critical, is you may be demonstrating to clients that you are unable to objectively approach a situation. If they see you have a rigid belief system and are not open to differing opinions, the message they might receive is that you approach everything with a bias. Because of this, clients may feel you are unable to review and assess their needs without prejudice.

As brokers become more reliant on knowledge, strategy, and advice to win and retain client business, being able to demonstrate the balance of objectivity, along with opinions and sound advice, is critical for business growth.

Make sure the message you and your employees send is what’s going to best serve your company’s future growth. Be sure that what you say resonates with your audience in a positive way. Your words and actions should inspire people to ask for your opinions and advice, make them want to do business with you, and motivate them to refer you to others.

What’s your platform?

If you speak more about your political beliefs than you do about your company and how you help your clients, the politics will overshadow the company message, and that will become your new brand. Prospects who don’t agree, or are turned off by continuous ranting, won’t consider you as a relevant business option.

Clients don’t want their business situations put through your political filter.

There are costs associated with political choices and not ones that can necessarily be measured. All those clients who chose not to do business with you won’t say it was because of your message.

And for all the potential prospects, or the ones you never even talk to because of the brand that precedes you, you’ll have no idea what that potential revenue could have been. If the political message you’re sharing is their reason for not doing business with you, it’s the last thing they’d ever tell you.

Just because you’re not getting negative feedback doesn’t mean people aren’t listening. They are hearing you, and they are making choices. They, too, are voting.

Photo bThomas Bethge.

 

Topics: Leadership + Management