Being authentic in your marketing and sales process seems like a no-brainer. You’ve heard it a million times, you need to show who you really are to connect with your buyer.
Audiences are more distrustful than ever. Everyone is doing “faux authenticity,” especially corporations. Your buyer can opt out of virtually every kind of marketing now, so the only way to guarantee you can infiltrate their world is if they let you in.
Buyers don’t let you in unless there’s a level of trust, and trust is cultivated through being yourself.
The problem is, it’s scary, sometimes even painful, to be authentic.
My Mother is my Biggest Fan
This fear popped up in me this week.
My mom is very interested in politics and activism and is a Twitter fanatic. Ever since she joined Twitter (way back when I was a TV news reporter) she has liked, shared, and commented on almost everything I tweet. My dad and my mother-in-law often interact with my tweets too.
I’m incredibly lucky to have such a supportive family, I know that.
Recently my mom asked me if it was awkward or embarrassing for me to have her retweeting and liking all my work-related tweets.
So I thought about it. Sometimes I do cringe when my mom (who shares my last name, so is fairly easily identified AS my mom) offers mom-like encouragement on a professional tweet.
I realized that I was viewing that interaction through the lens of, say, my former colleagues or my current competitors. I imagine them thinking, “Bridget’s so desperate for engagement that she had to get her MOTHER to retweet her.”
And maybe they do say that. This kind of thinking is what makes being authentic so hard. You have to be vulnerable.
Authenticity is Hard
When I view the same situation through the lens of being my authentic self, it comes off very differently.
I talk about my mom constantly. She is the most creative person I know. She’s among the smartest people I know. We are best friends and talk every day. It’s totally normal for her to respond to what I’m posting.
My authentic self has no problem with my mum being my cheerleader. She’s been my cheerleader for 42 years! So why does my “work self” feel nervous?
Because it’s real. It’s vulnerable to show my family, and how close I am to them, how much I rely on them.
Yet anyone who works with me is going to hear about Momma Brown, so when she takes it upon herself to comment online about what I’m doing, that is a good thing. It serves to underscore that I’m not trying to be folksy and fake when I talk about her. I really am that close to my family.
Start to Open Up
If you’re uncomfortable showing your “real” self to your professional audience, here are some low-risk ways to get started.
- Start with the “real” self that you show to your colleagues. Your customers should get as much of you as your coworkers get. Starting with that boundary can feel less scary.
- Decide on aspects of your life that need to remain off-limits. If you don’t want to show your kids online, that is totally understandable. Perhaps you can reveal information about your hobbies instead. The important thing is some kind of glimpse into your real life.
- Eliminate the fakery. You might not be ready to appear on a webinar in your sweats, even if that is how you “authentically” show up to work every day. But you don’t need to cultivate a persona that makes you look better than you are. Being perfect doesn’t make you an aspirational brand, it makes you harder to relate to.
- Find a way to remind yourself to be authentic.
I ordered these iron-on patches before the pandemic for an event. I immediately ironed one onto my favorite hoodie.
As a former chronic approval seeker, the idea that being myself is more important than people liking me was life-changing. Now, I look at my patch and remember. Authenticity will ALWAYS be more important than approval. To you, and to your business.
I have a handful of these iron-on patches left. I want to give a patch to anyone who wants to help me spread the word about the importance of authenticity. Totally free, just a little gift from me to help you on your journey to being authentic.
If you want an “Authenticity > Approval” patch, click below. I’ll get back to you to find out how to send it to you! I hope you like it as much as I do.