Is Being Authentic Bad for Business?
The first rule of social networking is to be real.
Put a face on your profile. Speak as a person, not as a brand.
But what if “keeping it real” could be “keeping you poor”?
What if, by divulging your political bias in a blog post or by giving your opinion on global warming, you alienate potential clients?
As a consultant, I am my brand.
When someone hires NewRayCom they get Ray Hiltz.
My personal views have no bearing on how I do my work.
When advising a client on social strategy, my focus is on their needs.
Do clients care about my personal opinions?
But in our social 2.0 world, the line between business and personal is blurred.
“I honestly believe that people of my generation despise authenticity, mostly because they’re all so envious of it.”
- Chuck Klosterman,
If someone wants to know more about me, in a few clicks of the mouse they can find out that I’m gay, like musicals (surprise!) and baseball, am married, have four children (surprise!) a Bearded Collie, a grey cat, live in Montréal and am a big “L” liberal. (There, saved you the mouse work.)
None of the above information is revolutionary.
How many profile photos do you see of proud Moms & Dads with their kids and pets?
It’s only an issue to people who have an issue with “gays” and “liberals” (and maybe cats).
I wouldn’t want to have them as clients, anyway. – Can bigots be social?
I am my own competitive advantage.
My convictions, my political views, my orientation, my life experiences, my expertise all sets me apart.
While being authentic may not matter if you work in a company, – It Doesn’t Pay to Be Yourself at Work – it does matter if you are a company.
Having said that, my business is called NewRayCom, not NewGayCom.
I am the sum of all my parts.
I recommend you read this awesome post by Olivier Blanchard: Politics, careers and why haters are irrelevant.
He wrote it as a response to a message he received from a friend on Facebook:
“You (Olivier) have a first rate mind .. I’m a little concerned, however about the the posts you make as they might limit your project/career options. You’re in the buckle of the bible belt and political sensibilities are hard to gauge.”
Here’s a brief excerpt of his response:
“So yes, friend whom I will not name, the concern you expressed on Facebook is valid. Sad and depressing, but valid. And I appreciate your sharing it with me. But I’ve given this a little thought, and…
1. If you have to hide who you are in order to keep your job, you need to change jobs.
2, If you have to hide who you are in order to keep your clients, you need to get some new clients.
3. If your company is a cesspool of discrimination and everyone is too afraid to do anything about it, things will never change. Either accept it and strap-in, or go look for a better company to work for.”
Would you compromise your principles or hide personal information to gain a contract?
Ray Hiltz is a Google Plus Specialist and Social Media Strategist helping small businesses establish their brands and build their communities on the social web.
A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking, Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus.
His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and individuals just trying to make sense of "social".
Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.