When you tap into this unique approach, it allows you to utilize the biggest advantage you have when it comes to building your personal brand and selling your products and services online.
In addition, it makes you more memorable, trustworthy and likable.
Now, it might not be easy, but it's the #1 secret I've found when it comes to being successful online.
I was reminded of it again this morning when I read this quote from Brennan Manning:
"Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us."
Remember - people do business with someone they know, like and trust.
If people don't know you, they can't like or trust you.
And if they don't know, like or trust you, they won't do business with you.
The Trap of Social Media
Today's online world makes it easy to create a false self, filled with perfect images of the perfect life and "humble brags" and so on.
And most people play in that space, both professionally and personally.
Nobody lets their guard down.
But, if you only present yourself with a perfect image online, people might admire you, but they won't feel connected to you.
And they won't do business with you as a result.
Here's why: You'll seem unapproachable, because others will look at your "perfect" image online against their own imperfect reality, and feel like you don't "get" them or that they won't be able to relate to you.
I still remember the moment I flipped a switch and started becoming way more real with the content I created.
It was 1994, and I was writing for my college newspaper.
I started my column with this line: "My dad died when I was 17. Seventeen - old enough to think I had it all figured out. Young enough to not know any better."
My father had passed away from cancer a few months earlier, and I shared in that newspaper column the impact it had on my life - especially because I was now attending the same college where he had been the Academic Dean.
That moment led to some the best engagement and feedback I'd ever received on a piece of writing, and I quickly realized that being real was the secret to great storytelling.
Because real life is not bland or boring.
There is drama. There are setbacks. There can be triumph, heartache and pain - all in a single blog post or podcast episode!
How Do YOU Create Content?
My challenge to you is this - are you being real online?
Or are you playing it safe and maintaining that perfect image Brennan Manning talks about?
For me, I've been open about a lot of issues.
I was sexually and emotionally abused as a little boy.
I battle depression and self-hatred.
I have a really hard time trusting people.
And I've found an immense amount of healing and hope by falling in love with Jesus Christ.
I've shared all this online.
And it's helped people get to know, like and trust me as a result.
You Still Need Great Products and Services
You still have to deliver quality products and services.
But people will buy based on emotion and human connection.
They will buy based on knowing, liking and trusting you.
And the only way someone can really know you is if you share your real life with them.
I'm not saying you have to turn your Facebook or LinkedIn profile into a real-life episode of Oprah or Dr. Phil, but you need to find a way to be more human online.
Sprinkle in some funny stories about times you've failed professionally and lessons learned.
Share some authentic photos of powerful moments in your life and tie those to a life or business lesson.
Talk about obstacles you've overcome personally or professionally and what happened in your life as a result.
Trust me on this one - there are so many people who can relate to what you've gone through!
For example, my business coach has shared openly online about both his battles with depression and also his undying affection for the band Pearl Jam.
I can certainly relate to the depression issue, and Pearl Jam is also one of my favorite all-time bands.
Now, my business coach gives me awesome advice that I pay him for, but our client-coach relationship is strengthened because I know, like and trust him based on the personal stories he's shared.
Are You Ready?
I will say this - you have to be comfortable in your own skin in order to do this.
You have to give up trying to get your personal needs for affirmation and validation met through strangers liking or sharing your content online.
You have to realize that, based on what you decide to share, you might repel some people.
But, more importantly, you will attract people to you that end up wanting to become customers.
People want to do business with someone they get along with and can relate to.
For instance, I'm not shy about sharing my outgoing (re: crazy) personality and enthusiasm in my content, and that attracts a certain audience (people who like my style) and repels another one (people who think I'm too "loud" or crazy).
And that's fine!
I want to work with people who "get" me, who like my style of communication and who relate to me.
So step away from this post and go create some real content - share something about the real you that not only lets people into your world, but also helps them understand what makes you tick and how that impacts what you do professionally as a result.
Have at it!