You’ve probably heard me say that you can be successful online by being YOU. That means you don’t have to be prettier, perkier, or more controversial than you naturally are to build a thriving online business.
And while I never want you to contort yourself to be successful, I do want you to know how you’re being perceived as a business owner. Because how you’re perceived online can make or break your business.
Do potential clients see you as a novice or a pro?
Are you showing up online making amateur mistakes or standing tall as an expert at what you do?
The good news is, you have control over your own reputation. The bad news is that sometimes your own bad habits are hard to see (and they could be killing your business).
Today I’m sharing the mistakes that even well-meaning business owners make, little slip-ups that look like amateurs in the eyes of their prospects.
Plus, I’m giving you tips on how to fix those mistakes and create a solid reputation, so that your prospects trust you implicitly and become loyal fans.
Avoid These Rookie Mistakes
Here are the mistakes that many business owners make (and that send red flags to potential clients.)
Like I said earlier, you might be making these mistakes without even realizing it, so read closely.
Novice Mistake #1: Using text shortcodes in emails and social media
If you find yourself regularly using “u” instead of “you,” or “ty” rather than “thank you,” or the 47,893 other texting abbreviations when communicating with potential clients, stop!
Think about it this way, if you were having an email exchange with the CEO of a company, would you use those shortcodes in your correspondence? No way. The same goes for your own business.
Go pro: Use whole words and write in paragraphs. Edit your content, so that you get your point across concisely and clearly… and look like the expert you are!
Novice Mistake #2: Spelling mistakes
Nothing says amateur like misspellings and grammatical errors. If you churn out content without giving it a once-over, it shows prospects that you aren’t taking the time to review your work.
If you don’t take the time to read through your content to make it top-notch, why should anyone else?
Go pro: Before you post, email, or publish a piece of content carefully read through it to check for spelling and grammatical errors.
Do you generally suck at spelling? No worries! Try an app like grammarly.com, which is designed to automatically detect mistakes in your writing and suggest fixes. You can also hire a proofreader to go through your content before it goes live.
Novice Mistake #3: Too much negativity
This happens a lot on social media, but I’ve also seen it in people’s newsletters. In an effort to come across as more authentic, business owners air their grievances (calling it a “rant”) or simply complain about having a bad day.
Here’s the thing. People want to feel good, and you want people to associate positively with your brand. So if you’re consistently bringing the mood down, it will drive potential clients away—fast.
Go pro: Practice promoting what you love instead of railing against the things you hate.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever speak honestly about the struggles you’re facing. I absolutely believe that these stories should be told, like I talked about how I failed my way to success and faced a chronic illness for several years while growing my business.
Just do them from a clean, clear, centered, processed place. Your business blog isn’t your therapist’s office. Be mindful of separating the two.
Novice Mistake #4: Not socializing or asking questions
Any time you network with someone, whether it’s in person, over the phone, or on social media, remember that the dialogue should go both ways.
In other words, you shouldn’t be the only one talking!
This is a big pitfall on social media, where it’s easy to rely on the “Like” button as your reply. But “liking” or “hearting” or posting a smiley face isn’t creating conversation. And conversations are what create connection… and help you get clients.
Go pro: Ask questions and actively engage with the person you’re speaking with. For instance, you can say something like, “Tell me about your project,” or “What’s inspiring you right now?”
This brings the focus off you (which is helpful if you tend to be self-conscious) and turns it toward your client or colleague.
On social media, the same rule applies. Stay engaged and genuinely interested in what’s going on with your followers.
Novice Mistake #5: Inconsistent posting
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make. They post or blog inconsistently or, at worst, they blatantly ignore their content altogether.
I’ve seen some business owners start a Facebook group, but rarely show up to moderate it. And they wonder why their engagement is so low!
Nothing says novice like someone who only publishes content when they feel like it.
Go pro: Set aside time on your calendar to post content, write your blog, and schedule your newsletter. Consistency creates trust. And people who trust you, hire you.
Novice Mistake #6: Pitching too soon
I talk a lot about pitching too soon on social media. But the same goes for in-person networking, or giving free talks.
Go pro: On social media, focus on genuinely being of service before pitching your offers. In person, make relationship-building your first priority; pitching comes later. And if you’re giving a free talk, provide helpful content that your audience will benefit from before you pitch your services.
It Matters What Your Potential Clients Think About You
Technology makes it easier than ever to connect with your right people. But it also makes it easy to produce content without much thought, which can lead to you making some or all of the mistakes I described above.
And if your prospects see you as a novice, it hurts your chances of getting hired.
So even though I want you to be YOU, it’s also important to represent yourself like the pro you are. Build trust and establish yourself as an expert by being disciplined, and having a genuine interest in your audience.
Do it right, and your prospects will quickly become raving fans.
I’ll be the first to admit that I make these mistakes from time to time. I’m far from perfect, and I understand you’re the same.
Yes, I use an occasional “LOL” with my clients. Yes, we sometimes have typos in blog posts, in social media, and even on sales pages (yikes!). I’ve had times where I was inconsistent in posting, offered long-winded replies on social media without asking questions, and pitching people too soon.
You’ll never do everything perfectly, and that’s okay. The first step is to pay attention to how you’re showing up online and do your best.
Now I want to hear from you.
Which of these mistakes have you made in the past?
What have you seen others do that are a turn off for you as a prospective customer?
Do you have any other insights from today’s post?
Please, share your thoughts in the comments below.