Have you ever seen a friend's Facebook post and thought to yourself: "That's not you at all. Why are you saying that?" It happens all the time, and as a personal branding coach, I find it disheartening.
People tend to "hide" behind their keyboards, either saying things that they would never say to someone's face, or representing themselves in a false light. These people are not being authentic. And they are only hurting themselves.
When you pursue your personal branding strategy, you have to be clear on one thing: It's all about being authentic. You can have the greatest social media posts, the most fantastic blog, the best infographics - but if you're not being authentic, it's all for nothing. Without being "you," you are canceling out everything else you're doing to grow your personal brand.
When you are building your personal brand, you must be authentic in everything you do.
What is your 'authentic self'?
How does your "authentic self" help your personal brand? Here's a passage from Embrace Your Magnificence by Fabienne Fredrickson, which I believe sums it up perfectly:
"Surprisingly, the act of sharing more of my authentic self to others affected my business in a good way. The more vulnerable I was, the more prospective clients started coming out of the woodwork and acknowledging how refreshing it was to hear me be so truthful about my experiences, fears and feelings. And they hired me." (p. 57)
People buy from those they trust, right? An important way to build trust is to be authentic. Authenticity leads to trust, which leads to a more successful personal brand. It all starts with your authentic self.
How to be your 'authentic self'
You may be wondering, now, how you can be more authentic with your personal brand. It's normal to feel nervous about revealing your true self to others. What if they don't like you? What if you reveal too much? Here are some quick tips to help you be your most authentic self, especially when interacting online:
- Write like you speak. If you just wrote a social media post, and it doesn't sound like something that would come out of your mouth, delete it.
- Show emotion. Are you mad that your Wi-Fi connection stinks? Are you happy that your sports team won a game? Or you nervous about an upcoming speech? If it helps, use emoticons to help convey your emotions.
- If you wouldn't say it to someone's face "in real life," then don't type it on social media.
- Share personal pictures. People love to see others in natural settings. Take a picture of your delicious salad, or a selfie with your husband at the beach. Personal photos show that you're a human too - wrinkles and all.
- It's okay to show your vulnerabilities. Express your fears. People with "Teflon coatings" have a harder time making authentic connections with others.
Your first step to personal branding success is to show your authentic self in every interaction - online and offline. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but over time, you will feel more secure in your authenticity. And your personal brand (and your business or career) will thrive as a result.