Over the next several days, I will be aging over five years. If you have seen me in person during my limited and “masked” outings, then that would not be the case. However, if you only see me through my social media, then you have a better understanding of what I mean in the coming days.
If we are connected on platforms like Facebook or Linkedin, you see a picture of me that was taken over five years ago. It has been my go to headshot whenever I was asked to provide one.
At the time I posted that picture, I was pretty busy. Over the past five years I continue to stay busy. However busy I was in work and business, I was equally busy in getting healthy, slimming down a bit, and doing some bolder things like shaving my head. In short, a more updated and current photo of me would show less hair and I am happy to report less of me.
So the picture you see on my social media today is not a true representation of who I am or who I have become. After over a year of thinking about how to make the switch to an updated picture, the answer finally became clear. The best way for me to write about representing oneself honestly in business is to demonstrate how to represent ourselves honestly by providing an updated picture of myself.
There are a few more ways in which you can accomplish the same thing, beyond utilizing an updated picture as part of the marketing of the work you do. Below are a few thoughts and suggestions that may help you be more honest about how you represent yourself.
Honesty is always the best policy. Most people know the difference between right and wrong. If you look around at people and the varying degrees of ways some people promote themselves, the lines of honest representation seem a little blurred. Keep in mind that eventually your customers or clients are going to meet the “real” you. Be honest from the beginning of the business relationship and you will be better for it.
Be authentic. A number of years ago a client met with me to seek assistance for starting a new business. We got together and worked through the good, the bad and even some ugly of what it would take to start the business. We spoke honest and openly. After the meeting, the client was mentally reaching for a word to describe the way the meeting had gone and said “You are authentic.” For some reason, over the past decade, of all the interactions I have had, that single comment still resonates with me. Be authentic.
Assess and realize your true value. The more quickly you understand your true value or contribution to the business, the business community, and most importantly, your customers, the more you are able to represent that contribution in an honest way.
Know what you say and say what you know. There is a phrase that I hear many times, “fake it until you make it.” I am not exactly sure where this idea would be best employed, however in most parts of the world of business ownership, there are very few places where not knowing what to say or when to say it can lead to anything but failure. In the technology driven world of today, “fakes” have a way of being found out. Learning, practicing and working towards a polished approach to sharing information should be the goal to get your product and service information to the public in a beneficial way. Once you have the key elements down, it will allow you to customize your presentations and communicate with additional potential customers.
Experience versus Expertise. While both of these have knowledge as a common connector, experience relies more on wisdom you may have gained through something you have observed or encountered. Just because you have “experienced” something, it does not mean you have mastered it. Expertise speaks more to the skill level or know-how of an individual. If you are an expert, be sure to make that distinction when promoting or marketing the work you do or the business you operate. You can always list your experience, but having the expertise to meet the customer’s needs is the key to success.
Remember it is always easier and better received to represent ourselves honestly on the web or in real life when it comes to business and our image.