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In March of 2017, South Korean Professor Robert Kelly was speaking live on air to the BBC when his two young children toddled into the room. The clip went viral. Today, we’re not only accustomed to these types of interruptions, but we even welcome them. It’s become a way to show our humanity in a virtual and tech-driven world and perhaps to prove that we can balance our professional and personal lives. Search “work life balance” and Google will return 1.5 billion results. Since Covid-19 forced most of us to work from home, it’s become nearly impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.
For entrepreneurs, though, business has always been personal. Our childhood dreams weren’t tied solely to personal pursuits. Sure, we dreamt about where we’d live, who we’d marry, how big our family would be. But we also dreamt about getting published or getting the corner office, building a business or a global brand. Our careers are inextricably tied to our lives, for better or worse.
Business is personal for your audience, too. These days, consumers see brands as entities to interact with online. We support the ones that share our personal values and beliefs and want to feel connected to the brands that speak our language. That connection usually starts with social media. In fact, 70% of consumers say they feel more connected to a brand when its CEO is active on social. It’s also good for your bottom line: More than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with a brand to which they feel connected. I frequently compare social media and advertising to a long-term relationship vs. a one-night stand.
Entrepreneurs, it’s time to take this relationship to the next level. Here are four ways you can get personal with your audience.
Weave yourself in
Whether you love racing or sailing, photography or books, sharing your personal hobby not only helps you draw a wider audience, but it also gives people a more complete picture of who you are and helps them identify with you. And bonus: it provides you with a unique angle for blog posts and other content. Are you more likely to read a blog post about how to read data, or a blog post about how to measure business performance the same way a Formula 1 team uses telemetry? ‘Write what you know’ might be an old adage, but it’s still relevant.
Last year, I gave a presentation on using data to inform strategy to a room of social media professionals. I was struggling with the flow of content and suffering some major writer’s block until I took a different approach. As a writer, I was stumped because I wasn’t used to telling a story in slides or deck format. So, I created chapters and made my topic – data – the protagonist of my story. It was the most natural I’ve felt creating and giving a presentation. The audience seemed to enjoy the unconventional format, as well. Remember who you are and weave yourself into everything you do.
Related: The 3 Pillars of Great Presentations
Share the nuggets
Your network can look at your profile and see where you went to school and what position you held at XYZ company, but it won’t tell them how hard you worked to get there, what adversities you faced along the way, or about the memorable moments along your journey. Authenticity builds trust, so don’t be afraid to share nuggets of yourself in a way that inspires your audience. That might mean sharing a mistake you made and what you learned from it, the stops and starts that redirected you, or the tough choices you’ve made. If entrepreneurs are good at one thing, it’s failing fast and getting back up again. Sharing business and life lessons gives your online profile a human touch, and that’s not just a “feel good” stat. Buyers and consumers prefer to do business with those they like and trust.
Related: The Likeability Factor
Call for help
Sharing your insights and advice via social media helps to position you as a thought leader among your audience, but there are benefits to asking for others’ advice, too. When your creativity stalls or you’re struggling to make a decision, empower your connections! There’s a reason social media polls are so effective – everyone has an opinion, and most love to share it. Engaging your network helps increase the reach of your message and fuels conversations. LinkedIn is an especially effective tool for this. The platform offers access to 660 million professionals. It’s ideal for finding mentors, growing your business, and building relationships. Staying engaged on LinkedIn not only helps you connect, oftentimes it leads to more traditional mentoring relationships, speaking engagements, and business opportunities.
Related: 7 Reasons You Need a Mentor for Entrepreneurial Success
Give shout outs
Kindness goes a long way. It’s also table stakes for taking your social media to the next level. Share relevant articles on LinkedIn, and always @ the source and/or writer of the piece. Not only are you giving credit where it’s due, but you also inadvertently open yourself up to new connections. And your social media post has the potential to reach not just your connections, but anyone who follows your source, as well. Likewise, be sure to thank those who offer you the same courtesy. Pay attention to your LinkedIn notifications! When someone shares one of your articles, say, “thank you.” When a connection comments on your post, take the time to respond. None of us got where we are alone, and we can’t get to the next stage that way, either. Thanking those who are part of your journey is a great way to encourage new connections to engage, as well.
Social media has become the vehicle for communicating, networking, and building professional relationships. Take your social relationship to the next level by getting more personal, and you’ll likely find yourself closer to achieving your business dreams.