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The Power of the Personal Touch: An Interview With Gary Vaynerchuk

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In 2009, Gary Vaynerchuk started his online empire with the launch of A few years later, he became the best-selling author of Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion.

Since then, Gary has been crushing it everywhere---YouTubeTwitter, and LinkedIn. He's seemingly done it all, and  he has taught celebrities, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O'Brien, how to taste wine. Yet as big time as Mr. Crush It has become over the years, he still finds the time to respond to random tweets from his near million followers and everyday emails asking him where the hottest wines are this year.

Whether committing to an interview a day with unheard-of bloggers or engaging with potential Wine Library customers over Twitter, Vaynerchuk is as passionate as ever when connecting with individuals online.

The Power of Engaging Your Customers

"Communication is the single most important thing," Vaynerchuk said recently in one of those daily blogger interviews. “Blogging was the big thing a few years back. Microblogging is now the big thing, and it's changed the dynamics a little bit. I love blogging, I come from blogging as a video blogger. But it all comes back to communication. Today, you have to be communicating on an everyday basis because communication is as important as ever."

So important, Vaynerchuk still shares his personal email address to the masses online and encourages followers to hit him up for wine recommendations, business advice, anything that's going to help him connect with a potential customer or partner.

"It means everything or I wouldn't do it," he said. "It's something most people won't take the time to do, but I'm possessed with scaling the unscalable. I think you have to give that effort if you're going to make a difference.

"Today, businesses focus too much on scale. We want efficiencies. We want to do more with less. But for me, it's always been about the human aspect. That's why I put so much effort into those kinds of things."

That personal approach works. Just ask the list of Fortune 500 companies turning to Vaynermedia to find their social media voice and manage their brands online.

Or you could ask me.

Taking Up Gary on His Offer

That personal approach worked on me last year, when I first connected with Vaynerchuk after he tweeted: “If you haven't bought wine from @WineLibrary ever, email me ...”

I replied to the tweet, and after a few email exchanges and recommendations, I was so impressed by the before-I-even-became-a-customer experience that I purchased a Wine Library-recommended chardonnay that I’d never even heard of. (Keep in mind I already live in California wine country, so there's no reason for me to buy online, yet I did anyway because of the great communication and recommendation.)

Unfortunately, because of a heat wave that hit the East Coast shortly after my order, it took weeks to get the wine shipped because the Wine Library team didn't want it damaged in the heat.

As a craft beer enthusiast, I appreciated his team looking out for my purchase and the fact they sent me a half dozen emails keeping me updated throughout the entire process. Even Vaynerchuk responded to my shipping concerns, and this was over a no-name bottle of chardonnay---far from the thousand-dollar bottles of French wine they ship regularly.

Talk about customer service.

"It starts at the top," Vaynerchuk said. "We take communication very serious. We think of communicating with the customer, and customer service as a whole, as an offense, not a defense. We believe in it tremendously because we don't understand the value of upsetting the customer."

It's safe to say by the time I got my wine (which was a great recommendation by the way), I was a happy customer. Great wine. Great service. An overall great experience. An experience I was sure to tell my friends about, both online and off. And that, as Vaynerchuk puts it, is the key to success in this digital age.

"Whether you're a brand or you're a business, you have to be communicating every day," he said.

And for larger businesses, that means having your leadership team communicate both externally to customers and internally to team members---so that vision is made clear throughout the organization. That clear vision and dedication to communication and a superior customer service is exactly what I witnessed in my first interaction with Vaynerchuk and the Wine Library team.

And that’s why Vaynerchuk and Co. continue to Crush It! after all these years. “Communicating your vision is massively important,” Vaynerchuk stressed. “If you have 200; 2,000; or 20,000 employees, it's important that the top two or three percent believe it. That’s what really matters. The best way to succeed is to find your ninja unit and make sure they don't waver from your vision, because they're going to be the ones who execute on it when you grow and become a bigger company.”

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Brian Milne, founder of Meadows Interactive, is passionate about improving business through communication tools such as WorkTraits and WordPress. Continue the conversation with Milne on Twitter at @BMilneSLO.

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