Communicating Who You Really Are, Both Online and Off

Knowing who we are, and being able to communicate that online or in the real world, is imperative for the reputation of our personal brand.
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For those of us who participate in social media, "meeting" someone via Twitter, Facebook or any other online platform can be confusing. Of course, you can't actually claim to really know someone through a social media site; however rightly or wrongly, we all create some sort of expectation. Often, there's an inevitable honeymoon period. You know, lots of chatter, becoming more intimate over a short period of time. Then something happens, and one of you decides, for who knows what reason, that "That's enough," and almost as quickly as you've been befriended or followed, you are no longer friends or followed.

Sometimes, before a falling out, we decide to actually meet or speak to that person, and when we do, we often think, "You're not the person I thought you were going to be." And that's the end of another friendship. One of the reasons that this happens is because online communication cannot replicate in-person communication. You cannot ascertain aspects of someone's personality via their facial expressions, eye contact and their body language online. Also, you have the advantage of that all-important gut feeling, something you feel when you actually meet someone in person for the first time. It's less easy for us to reliably tap into our intuition about an individual via e-mail or on a social networking site. That's because until you meet a person face to face, in a way, they wear a kind of mask. We all do. And for us to feel comfortable dropping our masks, it's going to take a lot more than an online friendship.

Knowing who we are, and being able to communicate that online or in the real world, is imperative for the reputation of our personal brand. So even if online communications seem to encourage, or make allowances for, the sort of behaviors we wouldn't dream of displaying in the real world, that doesn't make them acceptable. Whatever underpins your real-world personal brand needs to be mirrored by your online personal brand. However, there is a caveat, which is that on both counts your manners are impeccable, your communication style is consistently thoughtful and that you are authentic. Some may say, "My style is edgy and I like it like that," or, "I don't really care how others perceive me, I'm just me." Okay, I get that. However, the world we currently occupy warms to those who convey kindness, gratitude and thoughtfulness. These are the watch words for those who would like their personal brand to have a good reputation and a following.

As long as you're the same person in real life as you are online, your personal brand is likely to soar. If we have one version of ourselves for our online brand and another for our in-person brand, it's akin to having a dual personality; it confuses others, and in a very real way it confuses us. Here are eight tips that will enable you to convey an authentic personal brand regardless of the medium:

  • Allow others to experience you for who you really are.
  • Express yourself in ways that enhance your reputation.
  • Be known as someone who is reliable in thought and deed.
  • Develop a congruent online and off-line style.
  • Treat others as you yourself would wish to be treated.
  • Engage and bulid rapport, whenever possible.
  • Always default to top-notch etiquette.
  • Be the person you would like to meet.
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