In business, as in life, it is much better to be who you are.
I stumbled across a website this week for a web development company that someone asked me about. The website design was pretty bland, especially for a web development company; but even worse, was the company’s glaringly obvious lack of authenticity. There was no way they had ten people working for them with such inflated titles like CEO, CFO, CMO, VP of Marketing, and VP of Creative Design.
My colleague looked into it further, and discovered that all of the team images were, in fact, scraped off other web sites. How sad is that? There were already a number of red flags, but this was just out-and-out lying, destroying any chance of establishing a trusting relationship with website visitors.
The lesson here is to be you. The more you, that you can be – the better. A great example of business authenticity is a copyright lawyer I know who sends out newsletters on patents, intellectual property, and other topics of the sort. She always includes pictures of her cat, which may seem silly or not serious enough for a lawyers’ newsletter, but I always read here posts even though I am not a cat person myself. I like that she shares a part of herself and her personal life, which makes me like her more.
One of my clients, Robin Eichart, had a website for her management consulting business as well as a separate website for her blog posts. Her blog site was called, Graceful Leadership, and she wrote weekly business posts that were prompted by interactions she had with, and what she learned from, her dog, Grace.
Robin’s blog site started gaining more traffic and attention than her management consulting website. When she saw how well people were responding to her posts from Graceful Leadership, Robin took the risk of merging these two distinct parts of her life in one website.
She hired us to re-design her business website to incorporate the blog, and the feedback from people was great. People can feel the difference when someone is being authentic. We like that. We trust it. Authenticity gives us a way to connect with our clients, a hook if you will. (Take a listen to NHPR interview with Robin about her management blog posts based on her tog tips on the bottom of her website.)
It is often hardest to be ourselves when we are not satisfied with where we are, and are even embarrassed by it. This is a losing proposition since there is no way to improve when we are trying to fool others and ourselves about what is really going on. The more we can start to acknowledge all that we are and aren’t, is when we can start to change.
I read a post by Deana Goldasitch that provided a three question gut check to see if your content sucks. She says when someone is operating survival mode they write like they have something to prove, something to hide or something to lose. We the readers can smell this, and it does not smell good.
On the other hand, there is a solution mode where your attention is truly on the reader, and you focus on solutions to share, answers to give and insights to offer.
Both the copyright attorney with the cat photos, and the business blogger with wisdom gained from her four legged friend, function in the solutions mode and are obviously comfortable with being themselves, which makes them stand out from the crowd.
Try practicing authenticity, it is the very best way to attract your right clients.