Today, reputations are often built (and destroyed) online. Entrepreneurs, consultants and business owners now have the unique opportunity to gain a following of clients and build their business without ever setting foot in a meeting room.
But one small misstep and the same internet community that made you a star can single you out as a fraud and ruin your credibility forever.
If You Fake It, You Won’t Make It
If you only take one thing from this post, make sure it’s this: keep it real.
Humans are social creatures who are yearning for authentic connections. So, in order to grow (and keep!) that massive online following, you need to be willing to put yourself out there in a way that people can relate and connect to.
Flynn started the blog after being laid off his architecture job. He is not your average self-procalimed SEO king or affiliate marketing guru that people tend to avoid. Instead of aggressively pitching his services online, he shares his expertise in a way that feels genuine and sincere.
Pat’s ability to inject a personal flavour into his online presence is crucial to his credibility. It shows that Flynn is willing to put it all on the table, making himself relatable and accountable to his thousands of followers.
So, what can we learn from Flynn’s approach to becoming credible online?
1. Trust Your Gut
The same instincts that help you size-up new people at parties and meetings are just as important online.
Befriend those that will have a positive impact on your business and being. Support those that you can sense really need guidance, and don’t ask for anything in return. And, most importantly, avoid those who give you a bad feeling. As you build your presence, you will be able to pick out the people trying to take advantage of your expertise and avoid them, as this can be damaging to your overall presence.
2. Show Your True Colours
Cindy Lauper was on to something. Building and maintaining your online credibility is all about showing your true colours.
Being transparent doesn’t mean sharing your deep dark secrets with your followers, or tweeting about every move you make. Your online communication should always be relevant to your business in some way. At the end of the day, it comes down to being humble, honest, and open.
Here are important ways to build credibility among your followers:
- No matter how successful you might become, remember to say ‘thank you’ and show gratitude to those that trust in you and your brand.
- Be honest about your mistakes and shortcomings. Admitting to your mistakes and taking strides to make it better will inspire confidence and trust.
- Don’t pretend to know it all. Your followers can smell BS a mile away. Nothing will turn your online following against faster than arrogance and a lack of humility.
Strong online relationships are no different than real-life bonds: they require trust. To create an engaged following that will advocate for your brand, you need to present yourself in a way that inspires confidence.
3. Be a Dog
Take a tip from our four-legged friends and practice being loyal when building your personal brand. Loyalty is the backbone of trust and likeability – two essential elements of credibility.
It’s about sticking to what you believe in and being a passionate advocate of your business until the bitter end. Think about it – would you be inspired by someone whose position constantly changed, or who seemed disinterested in their business?
If those around you see how passionate and serious you are about what you are doing, they will be more likely to become faithful followers.
4. Call in the Pros
Pat Flynn is known for writing all his tweets and interacting with his following directly. But sometimes, you just need a hand getting started.
There are hundreds of credible online professionals (like PR companies and content marketing experts) who can help you hone your personal brand and build your following. A reliable expert will be able to advise you on the best personal branding tactics and strategies while helping you maintain a sincere, transparent and approachable online persona.
A second opinion is always helpful, especially if you are just starting out with your business. But be sure that you’re on the same page. Communicate your intentions clearly. Whether you are looking for help to get off the ground, or you are looking for ongoing branding support – be sure to clearly state your goals.
Building your credibility online is not rocket science. In fact, the more you complicate the process, the less likely that you are to succeed.
Remember, a following of 156,756 people is made up of 156,756 individuals who are looking for real, authentic connections. By generously sharing information and injecting genuine bits of personality into your online presence, you will develop a strong following of brand advocates who have the power to take your business to the next level.
What is the best personal branding advice you’ve ever received? Share in the comments below!