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Leo Laporte  – The Tech Guy has got to be my favorite radio show. During the show listeners call in and ask Leo questions about technology. Leo also likes to give his take on the latest and the greatest in the tech world. And sometimes he would tell a story about his son’s 18th birthday or ask Josh for a triple tall latte from Starbucks.

Now, I’m interested in gadgets and technology to a certain degree. But the reason I’m hooked to The Tech Guy every weekend has nothing to do with the latest iPhone nor is it related to the new 4K TV Sony has come up with.

The only reason I listen to the show is Leo Laporte himself.

I love his voice, his humor and the patience he has towards his listeners. I appreciate his integrity and his knowledge. Whenever there’s a major tech event such as the unveiling of the iPhone 5 I look forward to hear his thoughts about it. And whenever The Tech Guy is not aired I don’t miss the actual show. I miss Leo.

You may have had similar experiences. Think about your favorite grocery store, your local bank, neighborhood café, even your GP. What makes you feel at home there and come back each time is not only the quality of product or service you get there. In most cases the familiar faces and the friendly chat matter more, don’t they?

As the Internet and mobile technology are in full swing and showing no sign of decline, most of us are overwhelmed with information on a daily basis. Pick any major niche and there’s a gazillion websites around it, fighting for attention. The good news is that whether you’re a solepreneur, a small business or even part of a big brand you can still shine, attract the right audience and greatly succeed by simply being yourself. People do business with people, therefore showing them your unique voice will connect your audience to you and make them trust you more,  amongst other benefits.

Here are 7 ways to thrive in your business by simply being yourself:

1. Show your real face
On your personal blog, if you have one (if you don’t – what are you waiting for?) have a concise About section in the footer or sidebar. Use a good photo of yourself. Business websites with more than one employee can showcase their team members’ photos and have an About Our Team page. The same goes for social profiles: Please don’t show your kitten or your company logo. They may look cool but your face is way cooler! Even large online publications such as The Guardian, AllThingsD and GigaOM showcase their reporters’ photos and contact details.
Oh, and don’t forget to smile…

Action steps:

  • Pick a good photo of yourself where you smile and look at the camera
  • Use the larger photo versions for your website’s About section  (you can even use a full body photo for the About page)
  • Use the smaller portrait versions for all your social media profiles (make sure your face is clear)
  • If you run a business with a few employees, create an About Our Team page with a short bio, a photo and a Twitter profile link for each key team member.

2. Create an intriguing About section
There’s no need to get corporate when you put together the About section on your website. It’s not a board meeting, nor is it a resumé and there’s no investor to impress. People just want to know you better. So opening the kimono here can actually work wonders. Giving some personal background followed by a How [your business] Was Born story will engage readers, just like Steve Pavlina did on his website. Have a similar section in ebooks and reports you release and in the welcome newsletter you send to your subscribers.

Action steps:

  • Write down your personal story of how your business came about. Start by giving some personal background and follow by telling the story of your business and your goals and vision for the future
  • Use the story in your site’s About sections and use a concise version in social media profiles
  • Business sites could have an About Our Team page where the focus is on the business’s story, followed by short bios of team members.

3. Interview or get interviewed
Interviews are a great way to let your personality shine through. Whether you conduct the interview or you’re the one answering questions, interviews allow you to expose a different, more intimate, side of your personality and to show your sense of humor. Audio or video interviews work best because your audience can see and hear you which makes for a much more personal experience. Look how David Siteman Garland rose to the top by simply interviewing successful entrepreneurs!

Action steps:

  • Use your social network, forums and top users lists to find thought leaders and influencers in your industry. Check out the lists on KLOUT (use the search bar to find top influencers by topic), Technorati and Twitter Elite. Use Amazon.com to find authors of best-selling books
  • Contact a few influencers and ask to interview them, preferably face to face, via Skype video or phone
  • Post the interview on your website and social networks. Ask the interviewee to do the same
  • Contact relevant radio shows and podcast owners and present yourself as a guest expert willing to get interviewed
  • Be forthcoming when asked to be interviewed. Mention your willingness to be interviewed on your About page, media kit and social profiles
  • If you have a team of employees, interview them, encourage them to get interviewed as well and showcase the interviews on the company’s website.

4. Get in front of a camera
You may be camera-shy, but getting in front of the camera, even for quick videos, can pay dividends. Whatever business you may have, incorporating videos where you or any of your team members speak can give your brand more personality and also improve your site’s ranking. There’s no need to get fancy here, it’s not Hollywood and we’re not shooting the next season of Spartacus. An inexpensive Flip camera or even a smartphone built-in video camera could do the trick! Don’t believe me? Ask Gary!

Action steps:

  • If you have a mailing list (if you don’t – what are you waiting for?) ask your subscribers what problems and questions they have
  • For each problem or question prepare a video where you or your employee give the solution
  • Make the videos short, punchy and add your logo in the beginning and the end of them, and your website’s URL alongside a call to action at the end
  • Post the videos on YouTube, Vimeo, throughout your social network and on your website
  • You can also do videos occasionally instead of written blog posts.

5. Set up a personal Web page
Personal Web page networks such as About.me help individuals brand themselves online more easily. You can easily create a good looking page with your photo, a short description of your personal and professional background, links to your social networks and to your email. Since these network are highly ranked by search engines your personal page is likely to get a top position when people look up your name. It’s also much handier to give your personal page link to others instead of all your social media links and URLs. All these networks have free plans and some offer premium plans as well.

Action steps:

  • Go to About.me and set up your personal web page within minutes. Use a high-resolution photo of yourself
  • Link to your personal page from your social profiles and from your websites
  • Add the personal page link to your email signature and to your business card
  • Bonus points if you repeat the same process with Flavors.me and Dooid.me.

6. Get close and personal
You may be an introvert but sharing even a fraction of your private life can take your business to new heights. You may want to appear businesslike to your audience but this approach could actually be keeping business away from you. Some of the most successful bloggers I know, such as Leo Babauta, Chris Brogan and Steve Pavlina don’t draw a clear line between their private and business life. How much you are comfortable to share is up to you, but the benefits will be enormous: More people will approach you and your business because they will see you as a friend and as someone they can identify with.
And no, it’s not about telling what you’ve had for breakfast. Unless it’s really special…

Action steps:

  • An effective place to inject personality into your site and engage is in your post’s intro. Rather than talking in third person, tell a quick story about yourself. Share an experience or a thought you’ve had and then flow naturally to your subject matter
  • Social networks like Facebook and Google+ are great for combining personal and business affairs. A personal insight, a joke, a photo of your daughter’s first day at school or even a close up of that amazing cake your wife has just baked – these all work well within reason
  • Sharing details such as your age, your place of residence (you don’t need to give your home address!) can also help break the ice
  • For a business website combine blog posts about your office life, showing photos from the office and telling some non-work-related things. For example: A charity event you’ve organized, the Hawaii retreat you’ve been to, the new office you’ve moved to
  • Humor works great for showing you as a person. No need to be a comedian, but it’s OK to be funny at times and sarcastic at others. Even laughing at yourself,  ranting or being controversial once in a while can work. Ana’s Traffic Generation Cafe is a successful case study of combining business with humor.

7. Converse
In order for your audience to feel comfortable with you, you can’t simply be that speaker on the podium overlooking the crowds. The monologue needs to turn into a conversation, a multi-way street, so that your audience can reach you, give you feedback and tell you what solutions they want you to create for them next. Again, you decide what communication channels you open but providing a contact form on your website is a good place to start.

Action steps:

  • Make sure you have a Contact page with a contact form and a list of all the social outlets where you and your team can be reached
  • Integrate social media icons and links on your website and in your email messages to your list
  • Encourage your email subscribers to give you feedback by replying. Monitor your email account and when you get emails take the time to reply back, or have someone from your team reply. Show them you care about them
  • Give thoughtful replies to comments on your blog as well as on social networks and forums
  • Listen to your audience and take their feedback to heart.

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