People want to hire and buy from those they know, like, and trust. It's a universally held truth across the business world. The best way to earn the trust of your clients is to be authentic in how you present yourself.
I’ve used the word “authenticity” repetitively over the last few years, but what is authenticity?
Authenticity means being your true self in both words and actions. But, it's become such a commonly-used buzzword these last few years that's lost its significance. Your words and actions should always be aligned to your values. Your passion should be evident not contrived or forced. Honesty and integrity should be evident whenever you share who you are or what you do. Your image should be in congruence all of the above; and your online persona should never differ from what people see in real life.
This is authenticity.
Some argue, however, there’s a subtle nuance to authenticity. That authenticity is situational. That being yourself shifts with your setting. I’ve seen this play out particularly around the use of language such as urban vernacular or curse words. Are you being authentic when you drop the f-bomb or inauthentic when you refrain from using it at work?
Entrepreneurs may have more latitude in this regard. No matter how you define authenticity, you and your actions will ultimately determine your brand.
We often try to put people into nice tidy boxes and categorize them in ways that make it easy for us to understand and interact with them. Because we try to understand others through our lens and standpoint, we can often misconstrue or misjudge someone else’s way of being authentic as either fake or just plain wrong.
The truth is, we naturally gravitate to those who most closely represent who we are authentically. For example, if you’re someone who values decorum, attention to details, facts and figures, precision, and are devoid of a lot of bells and whistles; you’ll find the carefree, passionate, colorful, creative a bit (or severely) unappealing.
So the million dollar question of the day is: Should the carefree creative shift who they are if they want the pristine facts and figures person as a client, friend, or colleague?
Moreover, if this person made the shift would they be sacrificing their know, like and trust factor? This is the dilemma most new business owners and even some large companies face. Brand authenticity.
While I believe in honoring the culture, traditions, and protocol of events, organizations, and situations, I don’t believe you have to shift your values or lose your true self.
Authenticity is not about becoming someone else based on the situation you currently find yourself. It’s about learning to be who you are while negotiating the rules of any situation you find yourself.
Ironically, you’ll only now how and when to make those adjustments when you know your authentic self.
Need help showcasing your expertise in an authentic manner?
Here are 9 areas of focus for you?
Step 1: Identify Your Zone of Genius
Step 2: Challenge Your Own Assumptions
Step 3: Tell Your Story
Step 4: Update Your Bio with Specifics
Step 5: Get Some Processional Photos
Step 6: Brag a Little
Step 7: Publish Your Expertise
Step 8: Gather Testimonials
Step 9: Align Your Life and Career
Live, laugh, and unapologetically shine!