The Secret to Connecting With Your Audience

There's one thing you can do that will rally your customers, colleagues and even competitors.

learn more about Stephen Key

By Stephen Key • Jul 3, 2015

Snapwire Snaps

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

All businesses are fundamentally about people. Maybe you don't see your business that way, but I think you should. Let me explain why.

A lot of our success as entrepreneurs has to do with our ability to connect with our audiences. Everyone's audience is different, of course. For many of us, our customers are our most obvious audience. But so are our employees, colleagues and competitors.

What I've learned over the years is that to truly get people behind you, you must open yourself up. You have to be willing to be vulnerable, to get personal. Most people these days are distrustful of big brands and their intentions. They crave realness. They don't want an impersonal experience. They care more about where their dollars are headed.

Related: Stop Pretending and Just Be Yourself

As entrepreneurs, we feel pressured to get it right all of the time. We think we need to emphasize our expertise and our accolades. We put up a front. We don't want to let anyone know we've ever been wrong. Your audience might respect your accomplishments, but you'll never set yourself apart embodying that attitude.

It takes confidence to admit when you're wrong. It takes fortitude to share an insecurity or embarrassment. But what's most important of all is that your audience will care more about you if they feel like they know who you are.

Opening yourself up is an immediate way to forge a connection with your audience. We all have insecurities. They bond us. They make us human. Your audience is going to treat you more kindly if you're relatable -- it's that simple!

Listening to Marcus Lemonis -- host of CNBC's The Profit -- make a presentation recently reminded me of this truth. He opened his speech by telling us things about himself that most people would try to keep hidden. He spoke bravely about his greatest fear, which is to die alone. Later on, he asked members of the audience to reveal things about themselves, which they were willing to.

Related: 5 Steps to Becoming an Authentic Leader

For many years, I kept the fact that I am dyslexic hidden. I feared what people would think of me. But once I opened up about it, my secret no longer had power over me.

I think you can apply these truths to your business in a variety of ways. For example, how you handle customer service. If your company has made a mistake, own up to it. If your company has a problem, be the first to admit it. Your audience will appreciate your honesty, and as a result, be more understanding.

Whenever I give a speech, I arrive to the venue early so I can meet my audience and shake as many hands as I can. I always try to share something about myself that my audience can relate to, be it during a presentation or a YouTube video, because we really are alike.

We all love to hear stories about individuals who turned obstacles into triumphs. The triumphs are only compelling because we know about the struggle. I want you to remember that. Your truth is powerful. If you're an entrepreneur, other entrepreneurs are also your audience, to some extent. They will love you if you open up to them. They will champion you.

I challenge you to think about how you can open up yourself, and by extension your business, to your audience. If you're fearful, try doing it just once at first, to see how it goes. I guarantee that you will be surprised by what happens next.

Related: 10 Behaviors of Genuine People

Stephen Key

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

The Scam Artist Who Robbed Backstreet Boys and NSYNC Blind. 'Some of the Guys Couldn't Pay Their Car Payment.'

In the 1990s, Lou Pearlman made millions creating the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. It was all a giant Ponzi scheme.

Business Solutions

What Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Taught Me About Getting to Know Your Customers

Despite the push toward chatbots and technology-driven customer service, nothing can replace determining what your customers want through personal social interaction.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.

Business News

Man Gets Cut In Line at Publix And Ends Up Winning $1 Million On A Lottery Ticket

A Delray Beach, Florida man scored a winning scratch-off ticket this week after he was cut off in line at a ticket machine.