It has long been said that people do business with people they “know, like and trust”. In the personal branding process, it is critical to be the same person in your professional/public life as you are in your personal life. Authenticity and transparency are two important terms if you want to be who you are in all settings.
For example, I am not a dog person. Actually, I am not a pet person. I have always said “I am mature enough to have 5 kids, but not mature enough to have a pet”. Now to be fair, I loved dogs and all animals when I was young. They love me. I am afraid of them. I was bit in the face at the tender age of 5 and it has stayed with me all these years.
How does that impact my personal brand? Right now it doesn’t. I rarely ever post pictures of animals on social media. I don’t really talk about it. Now, if I were to suddenly start posting about being a dog lover those around me and closest to me would know it wasn’t authentic. THAT affects the personal branding.
So, how do you build relationships that are authentic and transparent in business? We all go to networking events to meet people. The question really becomes “what do you want from those you meet”? So many times we here people use the question “What can I do for you?” and it is like a mantra to them. The distinction here is you actually have to mean it!
When I meet someone I expect to give them something they can walk away with and use immediately. It might be encouragement, advice, a connection, or friendship. I have no expectation of reciprocity. Rather, I think of it in terms of the Golden Rule modified. “Do UNTO others as you would have them Do unto OTHERS”. What does that mean? Give freely. Don’t be stingy. Enhance the lives of those around you.
Encouragement is simply being kind, supportive and honest. Even with criticism it is possible to be kind, supportive and honest. Use the phrase “I am wondering..” and add the suggestion to it to give a critic so that it is heard. Be careful about giving false praises. Your credibility will be questioned if you do and that whole “trust” thing will fly out the window.
When giving advice, do it from a place of enhancement for the receiver. We all have a history and it is easy to give advice from our experiences. Unfortunately, no two stories are the same. Share your experiences and empower the receiver to figure out the answer. Know that their solution may not be the solution you would pick.
When meeting people for the first time I will be doing business with right away, it is completely a business transaction. No pretense of a friendship. There are many people I do business with who are colleagues and not friends. There are some who are both. There are a few I hope will grow to be both. It is important to accept and portray the relationships accurately. Allow the relationships to grow. Authentically. So that when you introduce them as a colleague and friend it means something.