The Digital Personality of Leaders and All Others Working with People…

Is Your Digital Personality Ready? Article by Rik H Raats

Your ‘Digital Persona’ will be taking the lead. Guiding, leading, counseling, selling,… This digital fast-forward initiated by necessity, may require overnight magic for leaders, residential real estate agents, lawyers, counselors, coaches, sales managers and all other of the many that have a people-focused professional life. Integrating the human factor in your digital presence (with far less body language, headshot-only-dress-code, 2-D view experience, etc…) is a huge challenge. The ones who already established a credible and engaging digi-version of truly themselves, proved to be highly successful. In this -earlier than expected- impactful adaptation-in-full, it is useful to get insights how digital personalities work while establishing and/or improving yours.

Your digital personality was until recently just the online extension of your physical (offline) business presence. Today, the ‘You’ that others could shake hands, smell your favorite fragrance, that blink of an eye, that rich genuine version of ‘really you’ will… slowly fade away on the online professional scene. Replaced by the digital ‘You’; who is online interacting with clients, colleagues, board members, shareholders, officials and all other stakeholders. Gaining online confidence, making people trust you, buy your ideas and expertise, is the goal and… there’s not too much time for the transformation because… you’re already pushed into the pool of zoom meetings, online representation of yourself. Learning that at on an off-day a picture of yourself in better days might feel like a pain relief might be a quick hack, but the disappointment that a still seldom convinces… may feel like a hangover afterwards.

Natural Talent for online Interaction? (Don’t confuse with online performance)
Is there something as a natural talent and will others, with a less innate gift, have to use training wheels and courses to build their digital personality?’ Like always, there are some lucky ones that seem born in a digital saddle. But after getting accidentally ‘bucked-off’, they will need to rebuild without manual because their ‘perfect balance’ was achieved… accidentally. For the rest; it’s the same challenge for everyone with one common rule; what you do not communicate (with all available tools) does NOT exist. Also in the other direction; ‘What you can’t ask or read, you can’t ‘smell’ or assume’.

–A shift that might be reshaping the landscape. 

In a way, it makes us look back to the magical entrance of the microphone in 1910; new voices became the highly successful newbies, already renowned artists became ‘classics’ and other rather nasal-cutting-through-the orchestra-powered voices sounded terribly in the new age of popular music by singers with a microphone. In the new challenge of building our online nature, we may see some game-changes. Will a too-shy-to-work-the-room feel more confident from remote? Will he, exposing high-end expertise and a full library of background turn out to be very convincing in a real estate deal? Will the fast-paced talking powerhouse keep his audience into the vibe and rhythm of his speech, when they’re not sharing the atmosphere in one room?

The change is more impactful than what we see at first sight: in recent history, almost all of us operated in a world with two modes; offline and online, and the online mode was the logical extension of the offline mode and vice versa. Today –sooner than we all expected, we are shifting gear to the full online mode. Yes, indeed, it feels like taking off without any landings scheduled to get extra fuel. All will have to happen online while being uninterruptedly active. We’re running the full process via digital tools, from leadership message to action, from listing to closing the real estate deal.

It becomes clear; not so Temporary at all. 

We are learning to cope with the surprising reality that it’s highly unlikely that we will experience a full reinstatement of the pre-COVID-19 history of humankind. We all know that we will never travel back in time to the point where we were at. All of us will have to adapt, and master improved digital skills. Companies will be less vulnerable to outages, disasters with a (partial) decentralized network of co-workers working from home spread all over the area, state, nation, or globe. Leaders will get a raise and a promotion for their digital leadership. Counselors will be continuing to help clients or via online sessions, actors will (pre-)audition online, job interviews,… 

Doubtful? Let’s look at the expert remote rule of thumb from the boonies: ‘What can be done from remote today, will be taken care of remotely… forever.’

The current common worldwide crash course in ‘online only’, will in many ways make people see how we undertook useless trips for what we actually can do online as we learn today. Ask the ‘remote experts’; the people living in the ‘boonies’. They’ll tell you clearly; ‘What can be done from remote today, will be taken care of remotely… forever.’

The ones who are already thinking ahead after the current pandemic status can see consequences towards the future. Prospective house buyers might consider that it’s far more ‘neutral’, safe and convenient to first book a virtual showing of a real estate property, before undertaking the trip and the effort to the live showing. From the point of view of the real estate agent; he/she can do more showings in a day, from the home office but… with less ‘connect’; less feeling of a real dialogue. This is to be bridged to get to the next level with the lead.

Some Examples of Personalities transitioning into Digital Personae.

What are we looking at? At fruitful interactions. Performances are NO interactions. Leading and selling is… interacting by definition, working on behalf of a legal client too; therapy just the same; it’s all interacting.

I want to give you some examples of ‘digital personae’ solutions and I hope this may offer you some insights. You’ll discover soon that you got to be even more unique than in real life as it’s only authenticity that sells. Indeed; there’s no such thing as a typology or categorization; every personality is in a way unique, and conformity is often an authenticity killer. Conformity may work offline, because you can’t hide who you really are, but digitally; no one is interested in interacting with gray people. Indeed, true personalities will always be successful, so the closer you build a digital personality in harmony with your physical personality, the better you will perform. And just like offline; you’ll have to evolve and enrich yourself the make the difference.

Example 1. The ‘Local Icon’ Broker in Newtown.

–His identity reads familiarly; you drive into a town you’re visiting, and next to the ‘Visitor’s Welcome’ sign on the right, there’s a real estate agent’s sign in a front yard featuring a beautiful professionally touched-up picture of the man. You walk into the coffee shop and start reading the local weekly, and you find the man’s brokerage firm also offering other properties with the same great picture. On local TV you see his billboard TV ad. In more than one case, in regards to visibility, his presence is more prominent than the mayor’s public image.

The real estate man has invested for many years in establishing the town’s one-stop-shop for buying and selling real in the area. This is done in a well-balanced traditional mix of online and offline marketing tools. And when you meet the man at a showing of one of his listings, the touched-up rock solid image becomes… human. And for people in that town, they’re familiar with the man who’s also present at local events, etc. His physical presence ‘humanizes’ the shiny touched-up image.

In order to create a profound digital image, we’ll have to ‘humanize’ the strong touched-up image. 

In case of a local icon, like in this example; this has to be taken care of diligently by for instance exposing his career-history on his website; his early prudent ‘pioneer days’, with pictures of how he himself put billboards in front of houses. Publish his advice for young people in search of their first house. Sharing his passion for country homes. The man handing a prize to youngsters at a sports event. He and his dog that always joined him. I know this might read like an advice in killing the muscles of a local giant, but even the strongest, consistent personal ‘personae’ are only credible when they express the human factor. This includes weaknesses, shortcomings, the imperfections that make us human and thus credible. We all do this in real life with our body language, with the unspoken aspects of our personality. In real life, there’s no such thing as bulletproof ‘poker faces’. The slightest ‘limbing’ or the brief moment of distraction,… This is what makes us inviting as people.   

When adequately well translated into the digital version of this icon (hard job, but worth every inch of effort); this is likely to become highly successful, even long after when he himself will be retired and his children run the business.

Example 2. A ‘Star’ Leader

She’s often interviewed, she knows how to enter the room. She knows everyone; from politicians to celebs; she has been more than once on the cover of the paper’s Sunday magazine and… she’s at every major event, often seen in the entourage of VIP’s, big cheeses and notables. She’s adored by coworkers, that are happy to work for the lively vibrant brand that dhe embodies. And when connecting with investors, industry leaders,… they feel almost literally enlightened being in connection with her.

This magnet-o-magic effect may fall apart or lesses when all goes digital. Offline appeal and online appeal are two different stories. The only way to counter this, is to add the extra dimensions. Expertise, for example, is an interesting factor. The overall popularity offers a good stage to feature a less known characteristic. Communicate this; expose expertise. Publish papers, contribute to specialized media and projects, get interviewed about very specific topics. Be careful with social media as they are likely to drag you into an ego-competition. Demonstrate added value, new points of view.

Ego as such never ‘sells’, popularity as such neither. Consider your popularity as a horse named to you. Don’t ride that horse yourself; let your added value, your message, to the market mount the gelding that will enter the arena. Prove that it’s not about your ego, but about offering skills and talents for the sake of making great things happen.

Compare it with the effect of a mainstream pop star who discovers that just popularity as such doesn’t sell forever. All over sudden he launches an EP with songs with a late 18th century alike classical chamber music ensemble -something he always had longed for to do- It’s a hit, it offers such an extra in-depth dimension. It adds value to his musical dedication and level as an artist.

Example 3. ‘The Himself as He Is’ The self-made Fundraiser

People that live a (professional) life and who never have to ‘act’ are relatively scarce. The only ‘mode’ they know is ’their’ mode. If they happen to find their focus, they’re hard to beat. They don’t have to go into a kind of ‘selling mode’ in order to sell.
‘Listen’, and what follows, rarely sounds like a sales proposal’ He, is not defending, he IS convinced himself.

In nervous circumstances, he might even stammer and doesn’t use the ideal wording, but you bet… he is utterly convinced from deep inside of doing the right thing.

In digital circumstances; just copy the flesh and blood version, in the direct unsophisticated, sometimes even somewhat raw form and put this online with little or preferably no filter at all. Capture the passion. Expose all aspects broadly, even bluntly and disorganized, because the richness of the topics he has to share, are convincingly strong. For two reasons; the profile IS what he stands for and because a profile like this will never change his appearance because… there is no appearance. He or she is ‘As Is’. (‘As Is’ like in a contract; take it or leave it)

I can continue giving examples and formulate possible -how to answer this digitally options-. But, these are indeed just examples. Typology is a dangerous thing; never waterproof when taking a closer look. Generalities in profiling people are just caricatures and these… never sell. The ‘digital copy’ makes it even worse. The only digital personality that convinces, is all about authenticity; credibility that harvests trust and enables guidance of the process of potential transaction. This is all about uniquely you as a professional.

This digital personality evolution got in fast-forward much sooner than expected, so the implications and learnings will fill the (digital) libraries of the future. Nonetheless, in regards to your professional digital personality, I see at least six points that might be useful in building convincing online personalities.

1. In the long run, Your digital personality will become more important than your physical professional presence. Never underestimate the necessity.

2. About online presence technology: online technology to enable presence will become as user-friendly and common as opening your mouth and start talking. The most important is the content; WHAT you say, HOW you say or bring it and the way you are CONVINCED of what you’re talking about. This requires a strategy. Define this before taking action. DIY or hire someone to help.

3. What you do not communicate, does not exist.

4. Gain trust and ‘feel’ in interaction by increasing your digital confidence. Trust the reality; expose; ‘give’ yourself. Avoid correcting, mistakes are proofs of genuinity.

5. Be who you are; unique. Conformity kills authenticity, which is key to connecting.

6. In many cases; ‘–The more plain, the more you gain.’ Your goal is to interact with customers in order to establish transactions. This is not the same as performing, positioning yourself, and all other types of making monologue statements. These are not the same as interacting.

This article is about the content, not about the tools. It does not cover the tools nor technical aspects, which are a separate topic (easy to find via Google) and fast evolving / improving.

To end my ‘Zooming In’ on this field, I’d like to add that the best way to go is; memorize some crash course basics, and make no other choice than to jump into the new deep. Start swimming in an ever-improving way. Please check that you see or have a ‘lifeguard’ that helps you avoid painful basic mistakes. Why jumping? Doing nothing is more harmful while others are improving. Rest assured; the others are mostly unseasoned swimmers too, nothing wrong with helping each other.

Let me know if I can help.

Henry Rik Raats

Any Feedback

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– I am Rik Raats. Marketing Communication Consultant and Entrepreneur, Writer, Musician and Horse Trainer. In every type of industry, I owe all my skills and knowledge to the challenges trusted to me by clients. My experience and references in marketing range from retail up to the airline industry, real estate, travel, pharmaceutical, wealth management, VC markets, M&A markets, hospitality, ag markets, equine industries, animal nutrition, and many others.

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