THE SILENT KILLER HURTING OUR BUSINESSES
This might hurt...
“True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” – Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
In 2018 I attended a conference in Chicago. A top executive at a multi-billion dollar company stood up to comment on how we should all do business today. A rather unorthodox explanation, however it has stuck with me equally for its truth as well as its shock factor.
To get real buy in today you as an organisation need to take your clothes off and say ‘here this is me’.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, business leader or employee your position whether it be understanding, working with and/or selling your product/service is what you do best. It’s your passion, your bread-and-butter, your side hustle, your life’s work. But whether you’re innately good at what you do or it’s a learned talent, there’s one glaring area I see many business entrepreneurs and leaders fall flat: selling themselves.
Gone are the days where we make blanket statements about entrepreneurship and leadership being equated with extroversion. Success and driven people come in all forms, and for many, being self promotional is cringe-worthy; whether it’s creating that Twitter profile, speaking on that panel, starting an email newsletter list or even speaking up in that meeting.
As an entrepreneur or leader you’re not just selling your brand, you’re selling you and your brand that is going to make the impossible possible. And, frankly, there’s no shame in being self promotional — after all, you’re good at what you do. If the idea of putting your expertise out there in a Linkedin article makes you gag, don’t do it. You’re selling yourself as your brand, so ensure you’re still staying true to you and what your business is built on. If it doesn’t feel authentic, it won’t feel that way to your audience either.
Don’t know where to start?
Here are 4 ways to find your authentic voice and start to promote the real you.
GET SOCIAL Whether it’s Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, not only do these channels open up the potential for exposure with new and large audiences, they also show your audience authenticity. Showing your audience that you’re a real person with a real ‘voice’ will impact who does business with you. In fact, 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.
NETWORK Networking has been a tried and true tactic since, well, forever. Despite an ever-evolving technology-connected world, people still choose to work with people they’ve met face-to-face. Building a diverse personal network is crucial for entrepreneurs and leaders alike. Not only is it an opportunity to gain business leads; creating personal connection can also be vital to partnerships, industry research, and even investment opportunities.
SPEAK If you’ve put in your time at your local Toastmasters or you’re a natural public speaker, consider researching panels you can speak on that showcase your expertise. If you’re not keen to speak in person, there are many great options to (literally) get your voice out there, while keeping some creative control. Think podcasts, Youtube or LinkedIn Videos. If your business is B2B, this is also a killer lead generation tactic in addition to being a brand builder.
WRITE Platforms like LinkedIn and Medium give you an opportunity to tell your brand's story, as well as your own. Your content can speak to trends in your industry, cool ways your company is innovating in your space, or even your own opinions on world topics that are meaningful to you. Not only does this establish a voice for you, you also become searchable, and increase your network. Outside of free platforms like those previously mentioned, there are great member-only communities you can apply for like the Forbes Business Council. If you qualify, you can publish your expertise right on their website.
Three Authentic Self Strategy Starters:
Evaluate your industry. What are other leaders doing in terms of promotion?
What are the things you “should” be doing but cringe at? Why do you feel that way? What are the bad examples in your mind of this and how can you re-frame or adjust it to be a part of your business success? Feeling lost just fill this sentence. “I don’t like _____.”
Make it personal. Talk about something you feel strongly about. Follow your true North, and promote yourself authentically.