"I told John Nemo I thought he'd be some boring, pole-up-his (read end), corporate suit and tie guy because he teaches LinkedIn."

"Turns out he is hilarious, fun, and LOUD."

Yes, Mike Kim really said that:

Once he got to know the real me, Mike Kim and I ended up becoming fast friends.

Herein lies the lesson of this post - does your "online brand" match up with who you really are in person?

Online vs. Real Life Branding

Some quick context: I recently returned from a Mastermind Event at a fabulous lake resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

It was hosted by top copywriter Ray Edwards (his clients include Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield and many others) and featured a small group of high-level online marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners.

Here was the view outside our meeting room:

Among the many lessons I learned inside that meeting space was a reminder of the "online" version of John Nemo versus the "real life" version of John Nemo.

For those (like Mike Kim) who only know me via my LinkedIn profile photo, and the fact that I'm a LinkedIn Trainer, it could lead them to believe I would be a certain way - corporate, stuffy and (as much as I hate to say it!) boring, because, well, LinkedIn isn't exactly considered the pinnacle of social media excitement online.

Here's my LinkedIn profile photo:

Confession: The only time I've worn a suit and tie in the past 5 years (since starting my own business in 2012) was for my LinkedIn profile photo.

And, while I'm not saying I should have a shot of me on the beach as my LinkedIn avatar, that image is not true to my "real" self and real brand.

Here's what I looked like most days at the Mastermind - in this instance being a goofball with Mike Kim (on the left) and Mark Sieverkropp:

See the difference?

What People Are Really Buying From You

One of the many big takeaways I had during my time in Idaho was realizing that people do not buy your product or service.

They buy you.

They buy how you make them feel.

They buy the story you are telling.

They buy the likability, prestige or result that comes with being a part of your client base.

For example, I once met a debt collector who was a big fan of Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins.

And, when I asked him about what events or products of Tony's that he'd bought or used, he replied: "I know Tony. I've walked on fire with Tony. Tony has changed my life."

This guy didn't buy Tony Robbins' products or events - he bought Tony Robbins!

See how this works?

Do Your "Online" and "Real Life" Personas Match Up?

The same is true for you - especially if you are a Business Coach, Consultant or anyone else who is the "face" of your business and brand online.

Make sure that, whenever possible, your online presence and your content reflects your true personality, communication style and passion.

Otherwise, people might mistake who you really are and dismiss you before they ever get a chance to know, like and trust you.

It is a critical lesson to be reminded of, and I'm grateful that Mike Kim (in his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, East Coast style!) did just that for me.