Nothing can replace transparency in business, and therein lies the power of authenticity.
I mean, what could be better than the latest Pinterest or Facebook Ads Strategy for growing your online business? Well other than a bouquet of roses from your sweetheart for Valentine's Day…a good dose of authenticity, that's what! Whether you’re a new blogger building an online business or a seasoned entrepreneur, when you’re working hard to offer your best advice and strategies that have helped you gain the knowledge and expertise that you have, it always comes down to how you treat people in everything from online comments to email nurturing sequences. It's so important to be kind, compassionate, and supportive. I think that's what really showcases a person's ability to be transparent. So why do women still fall victim to the trap of jealousy, comparison, negativity, and cattiness? Why hasn't everyone discovered how truly rewarding life can be when we empower one another instead of tear each other down? When I began connecting with like-minded women along my journey toward entrepreneurship, something magical happened. The women who I worked with previously…the ones who were ultra-competitive, caddy and downright miserable stayed that way, while my new friends were thriving and supportive of one another. Wisdom is meant to be shared, and when we genuinely celebrate our wins and help one another through though times when we're vulnerable, we can ultimately reconnect with our true purpose.
The Digital Collective of Women Entrepreneurs
I've found there are a lot of people and tribes out there who aren't always what they seem, and I've been fortunate to find a few select online groups that provide a real opportunity to connect, share, and grow. On Instagram, for example, there actually “follow loops” with people who participate and then a few days later “un-follow” one another! (So much so, that someone actually created an app to track the un-followers!)
I was once part of a Facebook group and I shared a genuinely helpful comment to another woman. The owner of the group issued a “warning” to me because I shared a link inside her group, however, I'm pretty sure she did not even read the context of the conversation that was taking place. Let me just say…it was not an affiliate link, and it was not even a link to my own blog! But for all the sh*tty groups out there that I had to weed through, waste my time, and feel upset about, there are those that I participate in and enjoy being a part of every single day as I build my business, and that's why I decided to take the opportunity to create another real and authentic group to help foster a meaningful way for women to support one another.
Women are powerful when we collaborate!
Building each other up, supporting one another with a legitimate follow, a re-tweet, or even just a “like” now and then can really lift someone up. The Digital Collective supports Share Threads for all social platforms, as well as blog and vlog requests for comment. I invite bloggers of all nîches to join me; feel free to post your own link inside the applicable thread whenever you are moved to do so! Women, especially moms, need a supportive place to grow. We deserve it!! We ALL were assigned a mountain…to show each other that it can be moved! This is a new group as of the spring of 2019…and although we're just starting out and we may be a small group…together, we are powerful. Together, we are vogue! Join us at: The Digital Collective of Women Entrepreneurs
Authenticity in Business
People who are authentic work until the job is done, not to look good, but instead because they want to nail it. They make things more efficient because they're always thinking about what isn't working and how they can improve it. They inspire people around them, and they bring relentless enthusiasm to the table.
When you're surrounded by people who believe what you believe, there is an element of trust that just doesn't exist elsewhere. For example, it's not like you're “friends” with everybody who lives in the state of Pennsylvania just because you live in the state of Pennsylvania, but if you travel to California and you see someone wearing a Philadelphia Phillies tee-shirt, then you're suddenly friends. (This actually happened to me, I was in San Francisco and the Phillies happened to be playing the Dodgers, so even those in San Francisco were my friend that day!).
Now more than ever, people are desensitized to information overload. We don't want to talk to an automated phone system, we relentlessly press “zero, zero, zero” to get to a live human being with whom we can connect and share our troubles. At the end of the day, we are all just looking for someone who “gets” it. How do you surround yourself with people who “get it?” This is your tribe. It's a tribe of people who genuinely want to connect with what you stand for. Think about this in your business and how you can relate the concept to selling your product or service. Think about the underlying psychology of what your target audience believes. What do they want? What do they need from you? How is your product or service ultimately going to help establish trust and allow them to take risks with the confidence that the reward of your product or service will actually move them forward?
Here are 5 Ways You Can be More Authentic in Your Business Today:
Strive to be more positive (in both your business and your personal life) by writing down 5 positive affirmations. It's truly amazing what positive self-talk can do for you on a subconscious level. Get out 5 post-it notes, write 5 positive affirmations, one on each. Then post one on your bathroom mirror, fridge, car dashboard, desk where you work, and one by your bedside. Here's an example:
I have the power to change my story.
Take time to listen. Listen to feedback from those who you might think don't know as much as you. There are lessons we can learn from everyone, including children. I once worked with someone who believed he could never learn something from someone who was his subordinate. What an unfortunate circumstance. Mediocre leadership will never grow a business.
Look in the mirror. What do you look like when no one's looking? Authenticity can hurt sometimes; it's who you are when no one's looking. Do you need to make a change? If so, make a commitment to yourself. Write it down, and re-evaluate in 3 months, 6 months, and a year.
When you open your heart and choose gratitude, you make a huge impact. There is little in the world that makes people more aware than a heartfelt, hand written thank you note. Take a few moments out of your busy day to craft a distinctive and personal thank you to someone that could only come from you, and could only go to them.
Consider an area in your life where perseverance paid off. Let that be a conversation with someone you know personally that needs guidance in their life. Connect with them, and offer a helping hand. You just might find a nugget of wisdom in return. The more senior leaders become, the more feedback they need, but the less they are willing to receive. The more guidance you give, the more you receive.
From Fling to Long-Term Relationship
It's always a good time to reflect on how growing your tribe is a lot like growing your marriage, your business, your best employees, or your personal relationships. I just can't say enough about how important transparency and authenticity is if you want to take your blog audience from fling to long-term relationship.
I recently had the opportunity to read a great ebook by Steph Parrell called “The Year of Simple Living: 12 Months to a Simplified Life” and it was a great read to help slow me down to literally smell the roses. As busy entrepreneurs, we tend to stay so focused on growing our business that so we often forget how connected our life and purpose really is to wellness. Steph provides so many tactical suggestions that you can implement immediately for everything from organizing your closet to mindful eating to meditation.
There are too many people, both in person and online that are not reputable with their business practices. Maybe it's because they simply aren't mindful of how connected their daily life really is to their business. I find when I focus on simplicity, that's when my business begins to thrive. I myself have fallen into the trap of working for a business owner who I thought was a completely different person than he actually turned out to be. Business owners continually look for ways to streamline their processes, and systems such as with email marketing automation, setting smart goals for internal operations, and even planing for a digital transformation. These are all a great way to get things done more efficiently, but should be facilitated from a place of self-discipline and moral responsibility, so that your people don't lose trust in you. I encourage you to pick up your copy of The Year of Simple Living to help bring you back to basics.
You've seen it happen…a business owner becomes greedy or an employee becomes envious of another. It's just not good business, and it will never foster a meaningful connection with your customers, your team, or even your family and friends. It happens not only from brick and mortar businesses, but in social media circles as well. To gain a true connection with your audience, to build a tribe, you have got to be authentic. Period.
How does Authenticity fit in to every day business online?
“You don’t know me, but I’d really like to sell you…”
OMG!!! JUST KIDDING!
I get a ton of terrible pitches to my business every week, and they all start out pretty much the same way. Someone I’ve never heard of sends me an email out of the blue, trying to sell me something and I’m immediately turned off. Cold emails just don't work. It's not good business.
I was working on a project for a client recently when the business owner decided that the 75 marketing qualified leads that I produced for him in a given month didn't work out as planned (because his sales person didn't follow up with them). So he decided to nix his Ad Spend Budget and instead hire a company who would “cold email” to set appointments…the idea was that this company was going to use their proprietary automated intelligence to search LinkedIn for opportunities (in other words, people their software identified as a good lead/match based on certain criteria like size of company and job title) and reach out to them via a series of automated emails. The idea was to set an appointment that the sales team would eventually turn into a revenue generating sale for the business. I tried hard to convince an old-school sales guy that cold calling may have worked out okay in 1990, but it just doesn't work that way anymore. Buyers are educated, savvy, and completely not interested in high-pressure sales techniques. Especially online buyers! Fast forward a year later, the same business owner is still paying this “company” to generate leads. Would you like to know how many deals have transpired? Zero. Zilch. Zippo. NONE.
But what do you do when you’re on the other side of the fence — when you want to reach out to someone you don’t know to ask them for something? You follow a modern, practical process of inbound marketing and thoughtfully planned automation to serve up a solution to their problem in a non-salesy way. And it works. There are literally hundreds of thousands of smart people making 6-figures a month in their online business. I'd say they're doing something right by running a transparent and authentic business, wouldn't you?
Another one of my favorite books is a collection of everyday meditative paragraphs. It's called Take Your Soul to Work. The book describes a host of leadership qualities that everyone should aim for, even if you don't yet consider yourself a leader. Give yourself permission to be authentic!
Power changes people, and it can be easy to confuse power with influence. Twice in the past few years I've been on the receiving end of a gentleman's power struggle. I politely walked away. A person is powerful when he or she display's authority over those who are powerless in their ability to disagree. A person is influential when people want to follow their lead out of admiration, respect, and inspiration. Being on the receiving end teaches us all a lesson in patience, tolerance, and acceptance. Rather than argue, I just walked away. I truly believe that I made the right choice.
I'm in a few different private Facebook groups with bloggers that I really enjoy being a part of. I believe they are truly authentic and the bloggers care so much about supporting each other. Some of them are quite large though, so with groups that number in the tens of thousands, I find that sometime's our voice gets lost. I recently formed a brand new Facebook Group (click here to join) for the sole purpose of connecting with other like-minded bloggers, and sharing each others blogs and socials with the ultimate goal of growing and sharing one another's business. I plan to run this group a lot like Megan's Pinterest Ninja's Group with one thread per day, so if you happen to be interested in some additional opportunities to share, please join! There's no set industry or topic, everyone is welcome. We're all in this together, and the more we can join the conversation and help one another, the better the world becomes.
What do you value most from other bloggers? Let me know in the comments below, or join the conversation inside Facebook. Thanks for reading and I look forward to connecting with you! XOXO