Yes, I said “puppies”!

As I was walking in my neighborhood taking a short break from work, I passed a young woman walking her adorable yellow lab puppy. Being a dog person, of course I asked if I could pet the puppy. So cute, fluffy and friendly. As I continued on my walk I got to thinking about how many ways puppies or pets, in general, can be a business benefit. IMG_baloo1154_retouch

First, especially if you’re in a down mood, puppies can lift your spirit. I certainly left the puppy on the street with a smile on my face and could feel a lightness in my step. It’s statistically proven that baby animals can lift someone’s mood, dogs in particular. People who have pets actually live longer! This also brought to mind a client who turned me on to the Service Dog Project on where you can turn on puppy cams any time of day and see puppies at various stages of their lives in various daily activities. She used to do it to take short breaks as a stress-reliever at work. You can literally watch them grow up, so if you can’t own a pet, there are virtual ways to reap the same benefits! (If puppies aren’t your thing there are several wildlife live-cams to pick from on this web site, too!) How many of us get sucked into watching the cute puppy (or kitten) videos our friends or colleagues post on Facebook? (yup, I do sometimes) Yes, they can be distracting, but again a great mood booster! Research shows that it actually makes you more productive! So if you need a little pick-me-up it’s okay to take 5 minutes and watch a few. Especially the ones that make you LOL and raise your mood! Or when your friend’s or colleagues post photos of their pets, it lets me see a more personal side and helps me to know we share some common values.

So what’s another business benefit? Puppies and/or pets can help you make connections with others in face-to-face meetings, networking events, on social media or in general business conversations. Knowing that the pet industry is a multibillion dollar industry in the US alone, people LOVE their pets. They are part of the family. How often do you find when a conversation topic turns to animals or pets, with friends, family or business colleagues, people start pulling out their smartphones with photos, showing them proudly just like sharing photos of their children or grandchildren! (My sister in-law calls my dog her “nephew”!) You’ve made an instant emotional connection – a bonding of sorts.

I believe in the premise that people do business with people, not with businesses. If someone has a pet, and lovingly shares a story or a photo, you have automatically connected with them on a deeper emotional level, whether consciously or not. You have triggered the “limbic” brain that is the deeper part of the brain that controls things like emotions, trust and decision-making BUT does not control language. All of a sudden you may feel that you like this person, or in the very least, you want to talk with them further. You’ve made a connection, perhaps even with some of their core values. When people love and care for their pets deeply, you can assume they are probably a caring and nurturing person at their core. You’ve bonded. You’ve found commonality. You’ve opened the door to a deeper conversation and have begun to strengthen a level of trust which could lead to introductions, business leads, strategic alliances or more. The sky’s the limit!

People do business with people they know, like and trust. So don’t be afraid to share a little about yourself to get the conversation going. This isn’t limited to just puppies or pets. When you let people see what’s behind your business facade and share
things that you are passionate about or you believe in, use them authentically to get the conversation going, you might be surprised at the opportunities that open up.