The power of transparency in business— and how it positively affects your brand — is often lost on some leaders, and I understand that. When you lead a major corporation, you might feel that being more transparent means you’ll have to show your cards to clients and customers, or give away more than you’re comfortable with. And what happens if you share anything that’s not business-related and alienate someone in your audience? That fear keeps many leaders from sharing an authentic story and truly connecting with their key audiences.
We live in a social world. Pretty much every single thing people think and feel can be made immediately available to the world. Thanks to social media, audiences everywhere can take a look into the true nature of the brands, leaders, and influencers they follow. When those brands, leaders and influencers stay quiet or secretive, they leave audiences in the dark — and an opportunity to build trust on the table.
Whether your audience includes potential clients, future employees or partners, business transparency is essential for you to successfully build meaningful, lasting relationships on a foundation of trust. Here are three steps to help you successfully demonstrate transparency and build trust:
1. Embrace authenticity.
Don’t be something you’re not. People can tell when you’re not being yourself, and that only puts more distance between you and your audience. That’s because when you’re so focused on what you think you should be, you’re keeping your actual story from being shared, and that makes it impossible for others to trust and connect with you. So, as Genie from “Aladdin” would say, be yourself.
2. Invest in your brand and thought leadership.
Your brand and how you present yourself to your audience shouldn’t be an afterthought, so make it a priority. One of the best ways to build and manage your brand is to invest in thought leadership. This kind of content gives you control over your brand messaging, allows you to contribute to industry conversations and helps you build influence among your partners and customers.
3. Focus on education.
When you educate people, you empower them to make their best choices — and you position yourself to be top of mind with them as the expert who helped them make those choices. And you can’t educate people if you’re too focused on your sales pitch. When you let promotion take a back seat, you can actually share knowledge, insights and true value with your audience instead of selling, selling, selling.
These steps are just three of many that I’ve found to be most effective at earning trust, building better relationships, and creating opportunity. For more about the role of trust in developing relationships with your key audience members, check out my book, “Top of Mind,” and learn more insightful tools at the Annual Gathering of Games: