I know that you’ve heard the word “authentic” at nauseam in this day and age…but it’s kind of hard to take it seriously when “glow up” and post-worthy ONLY pics dominate every timeline across the globe. Yet and still, authenticity is a necessary concept if you ever decide to make a living doing something you love. Of course! We rely on social media for free advertising to tell people who we are, what we have to offer, and why they should work with us, and we want to put our best foot forward.
However, there is a fine line between authenticity and disrespect.
I get that you have to keep it real or keep things “100”. I also get that Cardi B makes no apologies for who she is and has used who she is to set records worldwide. I also get that you only get one life and one reputation. But, as a woman who makes her living and feeds her family off of her craft, I have to be me, authentically, unapologetically, and with respect for other views and opinions. Doing so, I can attract a variety of interests to the thing or idea that I want to sell for a profit.
For decades, studies were completed and it was proven that people hire and buy from those they know, like, and trust – The KLT Factor. So, the best way to earn the trust of your clients is to be authentic in how you present yourself. But, how do you do that and do it effectively?
I guess you’d have to start with the question - What is authenticity? Other than being a commonly-used buzzword these last few years, authenticity means being your true self in both words and actions.
Bottom line, your words and actions should match. Your passion should be evident but not look like it’s a well-rehearsed act. Your honesty and integrity should be evident when speaking to you – about anything, not just in certain areas. And, your online persona should match your offline persona when people meet you in person. When these things are congruent, people are more likely to trust you personally and soon after professionally.
I know for me, there is a subtle nuance to authenticity because there is a thing called perception that can truly screw some people up. Sometimes things are perceived spot on. Other times things perceived are further from the truth that you ever imagined. Though, you have to get over it and focus on being consistent until the false perception is not even a possible reality.
You also have to let yourself relax and remove the pressure to be authentic. You are authentic already because there is no other version of you. You are not a handbag, or seasoned cuisine from a region on earth. You just have to recognize that being authentic really means being the YOU that YOU are in a particular setting. Sometimes we struggle with owning the fact that we have situational behaviors that we exhibit that don’t discredit who we say we are. For instance, wearing shorts or a business casual outfit to a corporate fundraising gala where the other attendees are in formal tuxedos could be seen as a sign of disrespect, even if that’s what you wear at your own house or office. Or, lets say you start cursing in the middle of a staff meeting or in your emails or on your social media posts - even if that’s how you speak at home, it could be seen as disrespectful and off putting to anyone that could be considering a joint venture with you. This ultimately could get you further away from what you really desire.
No matter how you define the word authenticity, it’s an important trait when it comes to company branding and associating yourself as your company’s spokesperson. If you find that you are not the best spokesperson for your brand, admit it and find someone who is. Or, change your focus altogether because, likeability is the REAL IT FACTOR that will connect you to your ideal client. Not everyone will like you personally, but many could like what you stand for or what you are skilled at providing. We see it every day. People may not like the personal choices of Tiger Woods, but he undeniably is a great golf player who made the sport more exciting.
So, why is this important to me? I’m glad you asked. This is important to me because I want people to not look at authenticity as a mechanical formula or how to be, think, or speak with others. Rather, I want them to ask themselves “Am I aligned and congruent in my thoughts and actions on a day to day basis? “Do I display and uphold my own values?” “Am I honest with myself and others?” These questions help you to remain authentic and true to yourself so that you exude confidence, skill, and belief in yourself which ultimately attracts who you truly desire to be connected with in life, love, friendship, and business.
How this plays out in real life.
Take a used car salesman stereotype for example. Now when I use this as an example, some of you instantly can picture a sleazy fast talking guy who is pleasant to your face when you approach the car lot looking to make a purchase, but then bad mouths you to the other sales persons when you are out of earshot. He gripes on and on about how horrible you are for wasting his time and not buying his car or asking too many questions if you don’t drive off in the car you felt him forcing on you.
For most people, that would turn them off from buying from him and the establishment because you wouldn’t trust anyone there if they allowed this to go on. True, he may be a forth right person. He may even authentically be direct in personality, but his actions are not in alignment with his goals. His goal was to sell you a car. His goal was to make a good impression on you to close the deal and get a bonus.
Instead, his actions did the exact opposite. So in my opinion, he was inauthentic. He defaulted to the stereotypical sales persona we all imagine instead of aligning himself with the actions that would have generated the outcome he wanted.
So again, authenticity is not about becoming someone you are not. Its about being honest with yourself and others about where you are and what you hope to accomplish and doing it in your own unique and respectful manner.
Now, lets see how that scenario would have played out with another type of salesman who’s authentic approach was centered around the idea of genuinely wanting to help you.
In this example his only goal was to sell you a reliable used car. He was focused on selling you a car that actually works because he remembers when his car was flooded out in a hurricane and felt desperate.
From his own unique experience, he could authentically answer any questions you might have and would be willing to find the answers if he didn’t know them right off the bat. He would be honest about the inner workings of the car and would be disappointed if you walked away from the deal, but you wouldn’t feel pressured to buy something you’re not ready for at the moment. So, you, the buyer, would leave, and he would thank you for your time. He then would invite you to give him a call if you wanted to revisit the opportunity to work with him.
So, you, the buyer, leave, shop around and run into a few other sleazy sales persons who just didn’t seem as authentic as the second example above. Guess what happens? You, the buyer, go back to the person that was most authentic and buy whatever they recommend even though they may not have exactly what you were looking for initially.
Why??? I’ll tell you why… the second sales person gave you the better authentic vibe. They had the KLT factor. You felt like you knew them personally. You liked them… but more importantly, they appeared trust worthy.
So, don’t believe the hype. Be you. Be respectful. Be authentic, and you will align yourselves with what you desire for your life and business.
Nu Epps, Author
Nu shares pages from her personal journal as she recounts some of the lessons and experiences she survived as a brand new entrepreneur. Between the stories, she also shares tips, tricks, and techniques to transform your mind, empower your creativity, and improve your business processes to keep you profitable and sane in your business.
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