Speaking at Izeafest, influential blogger Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss) of Successful Blog said that she considers authenticity her “extreme strategy,” both online and off. Strauss, who is a social media and web strategist based in Chicago and CEO and founder of SOBCon, thinks authenticity is key to being successful online. So, how can you improve your authenticity?
“Be there, be behind the screen,” says Strauss, meaning that you need to be present, you need to be engaged yourself, and you need to care. “Who you are is who you are, all the way down to the cells of your body.”
According to Strauss, some ways to enhance your authenticity — beyond simply being yourself — include:
1. Pay attention. “Be the consummate observer. Be the listener.”
2. Be positive. “Be as positive on the back channel intercom of the Internet as you are on the front channel intercom.” Strauss emphasized that even “private” communications can be quickly made public so, in a way, there really isn’t a back channel online.
3. Use “Thank you.” “If you can’t get to thank someone, you walk around the room until you can,” said Strauss. Even if someone says something terrible, just say “Thank you” and let those two words hang in the room. People will get your point between the lines.
4. Own your passion. Still trying to identify your passion? “What are you always, always talking about? That’s your passion,” said Strauss. “Look where your friends come to you for help. The problems you are solving is what is most dear to you.”
5. Solve problems. Said Strauss, “If you end up solving problems for people, you end up solving it yourself. If you solve a problem for yourself first, be generous about solving that problem for others, too.”
6. Make connections. Strauss explained how much she loves connecting ideas, connecting people. By caring so much about connecting to other people, she has built a real community with conversation via her blog, not just a repository for comments.
7. Start a conversation. Strauss gave a few tips on how to build community on your blog: “Don’t blog too thoroughly. Leave some white space for people to comment…When people comment on your blog, don’t just reinforce what they said. Ask them a question back.”
8. Play for keeps. Strauss asked, “Why play a game if you’re not going to play for keeps?” adding, “Don’t ‘sorta blog’ for anything because no one will know you. You’ve got to own it.” Hearing this, I felt it was a key tenet of authenticity: to realize the commitment it takes to be yourself, be real and to be committed to your community.
How are you owning — and reinforcing — your authenticity?