Think about the last time you went on a job interview or gave a presentation. Did you put thought and effort into your wardrobe? How about your hair or shoes? Did you select a professional looking briefcase or pen? Did you plan out what you would say or work on power point slides? I'm guessing you took time and care with each of these choices because they reflect the way you want to be seen. Each decision reflects your brand and your business.
The way you present yourself and your business in written communications is equally important. Your words should reflect your brand. From an email to a newsletter to a Facebook status update or tweet, the way your choose to communicate matters. Your audience, whether this includes employees, employers, customers or potential customers, should be able to hear a consistent authentic voice every time they read your words.
Communicating authentically in business is the secret ingredient for success. It is how you will cement your brand and establish a loyal base of customers. It is how you connect and build community.
Here are five tips to help you Communicate Authentically in Business:
1. Know and Accept Yourself
The first step is to know yourself. Are you naturally formal or more colloquial? Are you more comfortable sharing stories or just relaying information? Can you inject your personality into your writing and still be professional? Are you more of a heartfelt writer or do you prefer humor? Does everything you write come across as snarky? Is writing even something you are comfortable doing? Does it take you a long time to put your thoughts down into written words? Once you have figured out the answers to all these questions, own who you are and adopt a style of your own.
2. Let Go of Your Limitations - Push Past the Fear
I remember hearing teachers and even my parents talk about how much more of a writer/reader I was than a math or science kind of person. This made me fearful of anything related to numbers. I clung to my calculator like a baby clings to a pacifier. I never trusted my own ability to compute because I decided that I wasn't good at it. I was always fearful of seeming dumb because math was a subject that took more effort. I placed limitations on myself based on preconceived notions of what it means to be good or bad at something. Writing is the same way for many people. Once upon a time you may have been told you weren't good at writing. Or perhaps it was more of a struggle for you in school. This doesn't mean that you can't do it or that you don't have a voice. You have a voice and you can direct it to form into sentences with a little time and with a little release of your fears. Every time I balance my checkbook or do my taxes or plan out a budget, I feel an extra sense of pride. I can compute and you can write.
3. Be Clear and Direct - Stop Trying to Sound Smart
When I began writing professionally, I was intimidated by the task of writing for a business, so I tried to make my words "sound smart" and professional. I stripped out any chance of a voice and my writing read like a robot giving instructions. I looked up words in my thesaurus and hated everything I created. If you can't stand to read what you are writing, then something is wrong. If you are trying too hard you will dilute your message. Your writing should be clear and direct. You shouldn't try to "sound smart" or sound like someone else. A reader can tell if you are trying too hard. Your audience should not be confused when reading your work. The goal is to create an authentic voice that is clear and direct. There is beauty in simplicity and you can write in a professional manner without looking up three syllable words to fill your page. You can write about mundane and technical topics without over-complicating your phrasing. You can communicate authentically by being clear and direct with your message.
4. Be Honest - Vulnerability and Emotions Go a Long Way
Your audience will connect with honesty. If you are always putting forward a facade, you will fail to engage. Your falsity will create a barrier between you and your readers. If you want to connect there must be honesty. You must communicate authentically. You cannot be afraid to show vulnerability and share your truth. If you are introducing a new product or program, let your audience understand this is new. Let your audience feel your excitement or your trepidation. If something is not working or if you have to make changes to your business, explain why. Let your readers peek behind the curtain to understand your rationale. Allow emotions to come into the equation from time to time. Humans are emotionally driven, so tap into this to humanize your business.
5. Create a Community With Your Words
Your words should help connect and establish a community. You are not selling, you are sharing and engaging. You are letting your readers take a journey with you, so stop writing AT your audience. Your goal is always to connect in a way that creates community. You want your audience, whether this includes employees or customers, to root for your success. You want your audience to have a vested interest in what you say. You want loyalty and support. This is only possible through the creation of a community that is established on a foundation of authenticity.
The next time you are about to sit in front of your computer and draft an e-mail or write a tweet, think about how you are choosing to communicate. Are you putting as much thought into your words as you are your wardrobe or office set-up? Are you engaging your audience in an authentic way? How do you wish to represent your brand or business?
Nicole Dash is the Founder of Connect Authentically. She helps business owners and writers authentically connect with target audiences to establish a brand and engage potential customers/readers. Sign-up for the Connect Authentically Newsletter to receive a free eGuide that includes 10 Tips to Find Your Authentic Voice. You will also be the first to know about the next 30-Day Authentic Voice Challenge, corporate trainings opportunities and webinars for connecting with your authentic voice.
This article originally appeared on www.ConnectAuthentically.com.