Honesty is the Best Policy
Your customers, clients, and associates want to know the "real" you. They want to know if they can trust you.
They want to know if your book will truly help them with their needs, or if your product will help them succeed, or if your service will answer their questions, or if your consulting will provide guidance.
People want to know how you entertain, educate, or inform them. They want to know if you provide quality, and they look to your public persona to "suss out" if you're trustworthy or not.
Your readers want the truth. They want transparency and they require honest answers to their questions. There have been many cases of authors, companies, and organizations "getting it wrong" by dissembling, squashing criticism, or posting fake information. You want to make sure you "get it right" the first time.
Imagine that your fans and followers are your biggest supporters. Imagine readers who are loyal and true to every article you post. Imagine a community of clients who buy every book, CD, or DVD that you release. Imagine customers who refer your service and product to their friends and family. How do you attain this? By being honest.
Provide clarity by coming up with a policy that specifies what you will and will not post on your own website and on other discussion forums.
Engage with your readers and associates and encourage them with guidelines on what is acceptable to share about you in the social networking sphere and what is not acceptable. Be clear about the topics on which you're willing to share information.
For example, personal details about your children may be off-limits, but your consulting company, your corporate customers, your partners, or the products you endorse may be fair game.
- Commit to being as honest as possible.
If you hide, dissemble, or deny the truth, it eventually will come out and you'll do double the duty to win back your reputation. Be honest in your dealings and do the right thing in real-time. If there is sensitive information than cannot be shared, at least mention that you are aware of the privacy and security issue.
Post frequently. Your community of clients wants to know that you are available. They may not want an e-mail newsletter every week, but if they visit your Facebook Fans page or Twitter profile, they want something available, like a new article, an image, a video, a behind-the-scenes story, or a coupon.
You have many people available to help your public reputation.
Express gratitude when you receive that help, and always be honest.
Monica S. Flores @monicadear, a web developer since 1999, works with multicultural women entrepreneurs and fair trade, organic, holistic, sustainable, and green businesses. She blogs about how to create websites that build community and foster a feeling of connectedness. Author and editor of the "A Successful Woman's Handbook" series, find her at http://www.asuccessfulwoman.com.