Is Being Authentic Bad for Business?

Post by Ray 2 years ago - Social Business - 11 Comments

Ray Hiltz RIDI Patio

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?

Most don’t.

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.

 

Olivier Blanchard - Blog photoI 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.”

Simplistic?

Would you compromise your principles or hide personal information to gain a contract?


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About Ray Hiltz

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+.

10 comments
snouraini
snouraini

Oh Man, I love this post Ray, and I love you for who you are!  I totally agree with you.  Personally, I will not compromise my principles just to make a sale. Maybe that is the reason I am not swimming in money as a business owner, but that's my way and I am sticking to it. 

KlaudiaJurewicz
KlaudiaJurewicz

Thank you for interesting post Ray. I think that some people still believe that they should/have to/or it's just better that way - to have those 2 personalities - work-me vs. private-me. I think that trying to be consistent - being simply yourself in a long-term can only help to build the real and strong personal/professional brand.

luislondon
luislondon

You mentioned that —As a consultant, I am my brand.— I do agree here and think that even if you work for a big corporation you are still your own brand, inside a big brand. Like an actor is a particular individual inside a big production movie.Staying true to yourself is the best you can do. Personally and professionally. This reminds me of something I heard at the Art of Marketing conference. —You are not who you say you are, you are what Google says you are—

kittiewalker
kittiewalker

Well put, Ray. I have absolutely no wish to be anything other than authentic in my business or personal life. When I worked in the corporate world things were very different and quite restrictive. I am a big part of the Indigo Girl brand and what you see is what you get. The Oliver Blanchard excerpt is spot on. 

Mattias Gronborg
Mattias Gronborg

Great topic Ray! Indeed! "I am my own competitive advantage". Everything we do today is branding. Even if we don't do anything. Would I hide anything for a contract? No. It's impossible to hide anything in our society today. This post made me think about a discussion I had earlier this year: Is it unprofessional to be personal? Or should I tweak it a bit more for you; is it unprofessional to be you?

newraycom
newraycom

KlaudiaJurewicz Obviously, the social web and especially, Mark Zuckerberg's little invention is breaking down that separation.  I don't think we can or should be totally transparant. It's important that we have an interior place that we cal home.But if you're interacting with people, you have to be a person, not a logo or spokesman for a brand.Balancing your personal and "company" personas is just another thing we have to juggle in our new socially connected world.Thanks for dropping by, Klaudia, appreciate the feedback.

newraycom
newraycom

luislondon That certainly holds true as a brand, not to suggest that as a person, you have to be SEO friendly.The question of personal branding and "personality" would be an interesting discussion :-)Thanks for dropping by.

newraycom
newraycom

kittiewalker Glad you enjoyed it, Kittie. The corporate culture is a holdover from the industrial revolution and Ford assembly line. We were expected to be cogs, not individuals. Individuals are hard to manage, cogs can be fabricated. 

newraycom
newraycom

Mattias Gronborg For a very long time, there was a clear line between the "work" you and the "home" you. Social technology has turned that on it's head. As mobile has extended the work day into evenings and weekends, social has blurred the distinction between professional and personal.We didn't have to manage our personal information before. 

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