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In my marketing firm, I always talk to my clients about transparency in business. People want to know who they are buying products and services from. Especially, in small businesses, customers want to connect with a person, not a brand. Hence the popularity of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It literally took me months of counseling one reluctant client they needed to be the “face” of their business and thankfully now they understand and see the value in what I was telling them. Another client I was working with, I was preaching the same thing, and now they’re the face of their enterprise as well on a National scale.
“But, I was a total hypocrite! I wasn’t being transparent and the face of my own business.”
During the first year and a half of being in business, I had no images of myself on my company website; however I did at least have a biography. For a very long time, even on Facebook my personal profile image was of my dog, Kingsley. On several networks, including LinkedIn I used an image of my company logo versus a picture of myself. I was determined to market my “business” and I left myself out of the equation and that equaled zero business transparency, which meant very few clients! Have you ever done this?
Slowly, I started taking my own advice and began posting my own image in several networks to promote my business AND I started networking off and online (having conversations vs. promoting my business) with other business owners. Wow, it was like magic and what do you know, I got increased traffic to my site and more inquiries about my services. In late 2010, I was somewhat forced into becoming completely transparent through the article written about me and my business (which by the way, I almost didn’t even bother responding to the reporter’s query, but that’s another story). I remember after the interview, talking to the reporter and physically cringing when she stated she would need a photo for the interview.
See, I was like a lot of you, yeah you! You know who you are. I wanted the clients, I wanted to be successful, I wanted to make money, piles of it, truth be told, but without completely putting myself out there. I was like that TuPac song “How Do You Want It”, “All I want is Money “F’ the Fame, I’m a simple [wo] man.” : ) I wanted everyone to notice my great business, services and become my client, but not notice me, Bianca B. King. I know it sounds crazy, right? It’s not that I’m shy, but I always considered myself very private. This was true, but I had to dig deeper to figure out why I was behaving this way. The simple truth I discovered was, I was afraid. . . . afraid that people couldn’t relate to the “real” me. I feared I would be misunderstood, that people would judge me; that people would flat out not like me, not get what I’m about. My fear had me too concerned about other peoples’ perceptions. Have you ever felt this way? I had to learn to let go of the fear and get on with my purpose.
“And guess what, it’s all true, whether we like it or not people are judging us.”
Some people CAN’T relate to me, and people DO judge me each day and I’m sure some people really DON’T get me. But so what! Why should I let that stop me from my full potential? I finally had my Aha moment when I discovered – I am my business and my business is me. You can’t really separate the two when you’re a budding entrepreneur and you have to be transparent to attract and retain customers, just like I had been telling my clients all along. . . ah, the awful irony. I’ve learned business transparency is essential to my success.
The bottom line is that I now fully give my business all of me, and not just the shiny fun bits that I think should be seen. I’ve learned that I can’t only have one foot in the water; I have to be fully immersed in order to achieve the level of success I desire. And now, since taking the plunge, what do you know, business is booming, to the point I had to hire two interns for the summer. It took me almost two years to accept this reality, a little slow you think. . . But now I’m All IN!
What about you?
This is such a great post! I will have to feature it in the next BBWO Newsletter. I agree with you that Transparency is key - look at my BBWO profile picture - I have had it for going on 4 years now because its my classic photo BUT its a cartoon avatar! I struggled with being the FACE of my business for years BUT was I conquered that fear and got in front of the camera, started posting pictures, started sharing who I AM on sistasense.com - everything changed. People want to know you are REAL and get what they want.
FYI: In the new series of video interviews I posted on sistasense.tv ... one of the social media experts Marshawn Evans talked about this very topic and why more entrepreneurs need to get comfortable with being the FACE of their business. Again great post - will share with the network asap.