My Problem with Authenticity (on LinkedIn)

We all know the creed: be yourself online and lo, you will find your tribe. More importantly, for business, they will find you and know you.

I get that logic* and I see it done really well by some folk who are so themselves that it doesn’t even seem like they’re trying. They are often the people I make time to read about and engage with before I do any work.

And yet…

I have these nagging doubts about the whole LI authenticity thing.

– There’s a danger of over-sharing. And linked in with that (see what I did there…) is the sense that whatever you share will likely be pinned in cyberspace forever – unless you routinely revisit and retro-filter. As an aside, a few years ago I wrote a promo piece for a newspaper about my books. When I recently decided it no longer represented me I asked them to take it down. They refused and pointed out that they owned it, as per the small print in their Ts & Cs. So much for copyright. Maybe I’d have minded less if I’d actually been paid for the writing. But I digress…

– Authenticity is always contrived to some extent. Even if you don’t stick a call to action at the end of every post, it’s highly likely that you’ll mainly share anecdotes and insights that in some way relate to your business / business life. Why else would you post here consistently?

– Risk. There’s a risk of being pigeonholed. This may be more of an issue for me than you. As an author I write in several genres and as a freelancer I’m engaged in several types of commercial writing. Consequently, it’s like herding cats to curate an authentic online self in one space. It’s more like an identity crisis on a carousel. There’s also the risk of would-be clients running to the hills rather than running towards me with their chequebooks (they still do that, right?). And once you’ve expressed an opnion or posted an op ed piece you risk being forever associated with it.

Ahead of this post I reposted a selection of archived material online as a mini social experiment. Here are the links and impressions, just for fun.**


The Secret of Earning Money from your Writing (Bubblecow) – 54 impressions

Downbeat Endings (TV Heaven) – 109 impressions

Film Noir feeds my Fiction (blog post) – 82 impressions

Memorable OOH (Out of Home, advertising) – 60 impressions

The Better Life (a three-year Discover magazine column) – 49 impressions

First Person (a Guardian commission on sibling loss) – 83 impressions


How has online / real-life authenticity helped your business or hindered it?

Let me know in the comments, either here or on LinkedIn – I’m genuinely interested.


* And by ‘that logic’ I mean ‘that assumption’.

** This might be stretching the definition of fun, unless – like me – you enjoy data analysis. I counted comments and emojis too, but nobody likes a whinger!


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