How to be Transparent Without Showing Your Chest Hair

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You know the internet is no longer a static tool to show pictures and data. It’s an interactive tool that is highly participatory. It was once easy just to put up a website with your picture, pictures of listed properties, school information and other static data. Now there is much more pressure to participate at a deeper level, to be more familiar and transparent through tools like social networks. In this new world you have to talk to people in a way that shouldn’t be foreign or forced. How are you adapting to this new more casual and less buttoned up approach?

I know a real estate agent who understood this world and wanted to rush into embracement. The first thing he did was ditch the suit and tie for a casual Tommy Bahama type shirt and trousers. He went into the photography studio for a new picture; he created a personal video, started a blog and redid all his marketing materials to reflect a more approachable 3.0 kind of guy. He was so excited to show me the new him. I nearly hit the floor when I saw that the new him included a prominent spot for his chest hairs, which were clearly visible in his photo.

Although the intent was genuine, the execution lacked finesse. How do you come across as real and transparent without sacrificing your professionalism? What I would have asked him was: who are your target audiences? What kind of expectations have you set with them about the way you dress, your demeanor? He worked with a lot of busy professionals. Ok, then dump the suit coat (no don’t put it over your shoulder), but keep the shirt and tie. Fine to create the blog, put up a LinkedIn page, Facebook and all the rest, if it is in alignment with your target audiences (past and future clients).

I hate to sound like a broken record, but your approach to the 3.0 world of collaboration and participation should simply be inline with your target audience and the ‘brand’ that you’ve created or want to create.

And wherever you fall within the spectrum of participation, the number one rule is don’t force it. You’ve seen the posts on Facebook and Twitter that are so obviously smarmy, unnatural or overly salesy. Yes, nuances in typed text can scream loudly. Beware that in this space of fast traveling information, the bad reputation hits you in real time. Remember these short messages can easily be misinterpreted.  While you may want to share a strong opinion or joke, it could hit someone the wrong way leaving the wrong lasting impression.  It only takes one communication fail to ruin your reputation.

Don’t force sell. Don’t force your personal life. Don’t force editorial commentary. Don’t force humor.

This new space is about the natural flow of conversation and information. Not that you can’t sell, share your personal life, make editorial comment or show humor, it’s about doing all that as you.

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