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Putting the Authentic You in Your Online Business

I just finished reading and fell in love with a fiction book by author Angela Hunt called The Note. The main character, Peyton McGruder, writes a column, "The Heart Healer", for a Tampa newspaper. Peyton's journalist training has taught her to report only the facts when she writes and not interject any of her own thoughts, opinions, or feelings. So, instead of a column about healing hearts, Peyton routinely writes dry "how-to" pieces. Her readers, accustomed to the heartfelt sentiments of the previous writer of the column, are less than thrilled with Peyton's efforts. Readership is down, and Peyton is called into her editor's office one day and given an ultimatum: she has 3 weeks to increase her readership or her column will be given to someone else.

Peyton, devastated by this news, decides to take a week of vacation to contemplate her next steps. Simultaneously, Tampa's worst fictional airline crash occurs, killing all aboard, and Peyton gets caught up in the activity of reporting the news of the crash. One of Peyton's readers gives her a note believed to have been written by a male airline passenger and asks Peyton to find the child for whom the dying father wrote the note. Peyton decides to chronicle in her column her journey of finding the note's intended recipient, and in the process, discovers herself. I used to be Peyton McGruder. I've always been praised for my writing ability, but writing had always been a struggle, as I believed I had to write to conform to someone else's rules.

Because the writing process always gave me a headache, I chose not to write very often. And, I truly believed that nothing very interesting ever happened to me, so what would I write about, anyway? Thanks to some encouragement from a few wonderful clients, I slowly began the journey to finding my writing voice and realized I had lots to say, both personally and professionally. I spent the better part of my youth and young adulthood stifling my true feelings and keeping hidden the trauma I'd experienced while growing up. It wasn't until I hit 35 and my life began to spin out of control that I felt I had any real life experience to write about. It was then that I finally acquired the maturity to publicly admit that the girl who was always seen as perfect, highly motivated, goal driven, and without a worry in the world was completely imperfect and had her trials and tribulations just like everyone else.

Moreover, writing in my own voice with my own rules telling my own stories enabled me to connect with others in ways I had never imagined. So, what does this have to do with running a business or Internet marketing? Simply that YOU need to show up in your business. The decision to show your authenticity requires an inordinate amount of courage.

When you decide to let it all hang out and show your flaws, you risk offending others in some way. The bottom line is that not everyone will like you, no matter how hard you try, so don't waste any more time worrying about it and get on with the process of living. I will tell you, though, that being the same person with the same values and standards in both your life and business makes your day-to-day living much saner with much less possibility of major internal conflicts when your life and business collide. I truly believe that it's only in showing your foibles, your humor, and your life lessons that you can begin to establish relationships online and begin to build the like, know and trust factor so that someone will buy what you're selling. Will this happen overnight? Absolutely not. Just like in real life, it takes time to nurture virtual relationships.

In my experience, some resonate immediately with my website or blog and hire me right away. For others, it takes months or even a year or two to come to that decision. How many people have I scared away at this point by simply being me? I'll never know. I consider my authenticity to be my client litmus test -- you'll either like me and hang around or I'll drive you nuts and you leave, and both are ok.

There are more than enough of the former to keep me in business. Do your prospective clients get a true sense of you when they read your brochure, peruse your business card, stumble across your web site, read your blog, or listen to your podcast? As a service business owner, one of your most unique selling propositions is YOU. What steps do you need to take to bring your unique perspective into your business so that you don't look or sound just like everyone else in your industry? Copyright (c) 2007 Donna Gunter.

Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps self-employed service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at GetMoreClientsOnline.

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