Your business and your personality SHOULDN’T be two separate entities, no matter what profession you’re in. I’m the idea guy. How can you tell? There’s a light bulb (literally) suspended above my head when you come into my office; anytime I get a new project, I’m usually trying to come up with the biggest baddest way to get it done; and I jump at the chance to brainstorm.

REALTORS® aren’t any different. The small decisions you make (whether on a website, business card, or blog) illustrate to consumers and colleagues the type of professional you are and instead of business people trying to waterdown their personalities, some consumers and professionals need to learn how to take a hint.

Missy Caulk wrote a great post on NOT VOMITING a.k.a. how to improve prospecting calls (check it out, I think anyone who’s phone prospecting needs to give it a read). In the comments she was criticized for requiring a phone number on her site and a debate erupted about how client phone numbers are used and FTC law. The question at the core of the debate: is the fact that Missy requires a phone number to view her listings vomit?

Vomit? No. A sign? Yes.

The required phone number field is a sign to colleagues, consumers, and web-surfers that Missy’s the kind of professional that believes there’s value in person-to-person connections. If you want a REALTOR® with no people skills, she’s not the one for you and I take issue with the critic who couldn’t take a hint.

The REALTORS® I know personally work hard to build and preserve their business. I don’t think it’s outrageous to require consumers to make a little commitment on a website before viewing listings. Actually I think, it’s down right smart.

If a prospect doesn’t want a REALTOR® they can talk to, Missy’s not the right one for them and she’s communicated that on her site.

Reading the whole debate reminded of a conversation I sat in on between two VAR members back at convention who were like night and day. They’re both successful business people with drastically different personalities, morals, and business practices. While clashing in comical conversation, one member told the other, “I wouldn’t refer a client to you.” The retort I can’t remember exactly, but it was something to the tune of “That’s fine and I appreciate that.”

The bottom line in the conversation: They do business differently. They find clients in different places, make different decisions in their online presence, and both are bloggers, but they even go at that differently.

There’s nothing wrong with having an identity.

As a consumer, I appreciate it. It’s my sign and I’d rather REALTORS® and business people be themselves (even online) and not try to fool me into doing business with them.

Thanks to Missy and all the other REALTORS® out there who are actually themselves online (and everywhere else) and don’t cave in to critics trying to strip them of their personalities and pretend there is some generic, one-size-fits-all way to do business.

P.S. Kudos to Matt Rathbun (and his new Blackberry) for his comments.