5 Ways to Use Authenticity to Increase Engagement

This seems to have become a bit of a buzz word, and what I find with buzz words is that often there is confusion about what these actually mean and how you can apply a concept to your life or business.

The meaning of the word is simply ‘being genuine’ (dictionary.com) though dictionary.cambridge.org talks of authenticity as the quality of being real or true and other dictionaries refer to qualities of being genuine, trustworthy and related originality.

But when we talk about people being authentic what do we mean. Many of us would refer to authentic people as those who are genuine, sincere, and honest, the people who we know will not say one thing yet do another. What we often warm to in people is the sense that if they hold a value as important they will always be true to that.

So authenticity means if you feel kindness is an important value then as far as possible you behave in a kindly fashion. If gratitude is something you value then you yourself are grateful. The same with any other quality – authentic folk don’t separate their values form their actions rather their values will be demonstrated through their actions.

But when we talk about people being authentic in terms of their business what we usually mean is their business being a reflection of them as a person.

We have probably all had times when we have engaged with a business or individual and felt we resonated with their values only to find that actually what they said were their values didn’t seem to be demonstrated in their actions. Not a good feeling.

Think for a moment about your own engagement with business. If I order a book from Amazon for example I’d like to know that it will be delivered on time and will be the right book and generally my experience has been that this is the case. I don’t actually connect much with the company but if it didn’t live up to my expectations I wouldn’t use again.

If on the other hand I am buying a service like some therapy or counselling it would be important to me to have a connection with the person AND to have a sense that their professional identity was not miles away from their personal one. I suppose if it’s a ‘personal’ service it is much more important to me that I know something about the person behind the business, to reassure myself of their authenticity.

So as a business owner or a professional individual how do you demonstrate your authenticity?

  • Be clear about who YOU are – what are your values – if you had to describe yourself in just 3 words what would they be? Trustworthy, honest, supportive challenging, reliable, funny, sensitive kind, creative – the list could be endless so choose a three that describe you (don’t stick to those on the list).
  • Are those qualities apparent in your professional life or business? If not and there is a mismatch the chances are this will make it harder to be successful because aspects of your business aren’t authentic – that is the real YOU is not shining through.
  • Try not to keep your business or professional persona too far removed from you as a person. Yes you can still have a personal life but occasionally let a bit of that life and YOU shine through in your business.
  • If anything in your business doesn’t sit comfortably with who you are then have a closer look – clients will usually spot it immediately so be prepared to make a few adjustments so that your business or professional identity is aligned with you as a person.

I imagine that some of you are wondering how you go about doing that. Well try these few simple steps.

  1. If you picked three words to describe you – would they also describe your business or you as a professional? If not could you make a few changes?
  2. Try posting or blogging about something that has impacted you personally? Be honest -even if things have been tough people are more likely to engage with someone that is real.
  3. If you have a personal and a business or professional face book, twitter, Instagram account try posting one of your personal posts on your business or professional page – people want to see the real YOU and this is a great and easy way to do this.
  4. Respond to comments or posts with more than just a like – by making a comment rather than just hitting a like or emoji people have more of a chance with connecting with who you are.
  5. Get comfortable with who YOU are, one of the reason people are sometimes afraid to be authentic is that they have a bit of a fear that people might not like who they really are. Spend a bit of time connecting with your own awesomeness – yes you may have some weaknesses but you also have a lot of strengths – and if it is really a problem for you to identify that then maybe now is the time to get in touch!!!