How can you have charisma? Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are making them feel good about you – Dan Reliand
Most people think of charisma as something mystical, almost undefinable. They think it’s a quality that comes at birth or not at all. But that’s not true. Charisma, plainly stated, is the ability to draw people to you. And like other character traits, it can be developed.
And as I’ve discussed earlier, your blog (and you) have a certain personality, a brand that can be nurtured, cultivated and molded into anything that you want it to be. Because the personality of a blogger can be one of the biggest ‘crowd-pullers’ for the blog, it’s important that you get it right.
To create a blog that attracts others, you need to integrate the following points into your blog’s philosophy:
1. Be Passionate and Positive
Who would you rather spend time with – someone who is grumpy, bitter and depressed, or someone that is cheerful, positive and passionate?
Blogs are the same – most people get turned off from whiners and are attracted to those who have a positive approach towards life (I wouldn’t say optimistic – there’s a difference in having self-belief and in distorting reality). Or, as they say, when you set yourself on fire (passion), people love to come and watch you burn.
Being positive is more than just avoiding the urge to criticise – it’s a conscious attempt to focus on how things can be made better instead of focusing on what’s wrong, it’s the drive to focus on the good rather than on the bad. You cannot be blind to a fault or a mistake, but you can choose what you spend your time on – pointing out what’s wrong or showing people how to fix it.
And just about every successful blogger I know speaks with passion and conviction – it’s not an add-on trait, this is perhaps the single-most important ingredient to blogging success (and success in life).
2. Expect the Best of People
How do you react when you first meet someone or as us bloggers are likely to do, meet them online? Do you judge them on their name, on their past, on their reputation? Or do you start off by thinking of the other person as a “10”, expect the best from them and give them all your attention?
How we interact with others directly influences what they think of us. If you treat them as perfect 10’s, they’ll remember you as someone who makes them feel good about themselves – and that’s what you need to get them to come back.
With blogging and bloggers, this works on two angles. First is your approach to networking – how you interact with fellow bloggers, readers, journalists, sales reps, etc. Second is through your blog and how you treat your readers – whether you appreciate them and encourage them to do better, or whether you talk down to them, insult their intelligence and expect them to fail.
If you appreciate others, encourage them, and help them reach their potential (both through your blog and through your networking efforts), they will love you for it.
3. Give People Hope
Are you all doom and gloom or are you confident that despite hardships, it’s within your hands to achieve results? Hope does not mean optimism, it’s the confidence in your own ability (and that of others) to do what is necessary to overcome obstacles – and it is this confidence (or lack of it) that will shine through and either inspire your readers or turn them away from you.
One theme you must have noticed here is that of confidence – the kind you have in yourself and your beliefs and the kind you show in others. To be honest, because we’re online and protected by relative anonymity and our blogs, this kind of self-confidence can be faked for some time, so fake it until you yourself believe it to be true.
Take a hard look at your blog and see whether it inspires hope or instills misery – unless the answer is firmly in the corner of ‘hope’, you’ve got work to do.
4. Share Yourself
Make yourself available to your readers – whether it is in terms of replying to comments, to email, sharing your IM details on your blog or just giving more of yourself in terms of personal experiences and resources. In a recent article titled “27 Tips for Building a Kick-Ass Blog”, I talked about how important it was to ‘give first’ and ask later. Sharing yourself is all about giving in terms of your personal time and attention.
In networking, this means helping out people you meet in solving their problems – trust me on this, if you just go out and help the next person who asks you, without asking or expecting anything in return, the rewards are tremendous. And you don’t just have to do this in person, you can do it on your blog as well. If you readers want something, give it to them, even if it means you having to spend extra time on your blog to make it happen.
A lot of the more ‘popular’ bloggers are well-known not only for being charismatic but also because they excel in their fields. However, to show you how sheer charisma can turn someone into a superstar, take the example of Edward Harrison.
Ed is a 60-something retired IBM employee, who started a blog about the football club Newcastle United in April 2007. Within a couple of weeks, his blog was gaining traction and in 2 months one could safely say that it was a roaring success. In the 5 months since the blog has been live, we’ve received over a hundred emails from readers and thousands of comments on the blog telling Ed that his blog is the first thing they check in the morning.
For me, that type of loyalty and appreciation cannot be bought, it has to be earned. Ed did not win over his readers by being the best writer, or the most knowledgeable, or the most insightful. Instead, he did it by doing 4 things right:
- He’s a passionate Newcastle United fan, and it shows in the hard work he puts in the blog (anywhere between 5-8 posts per day) and in everything he writes. He’s also positive about his team – it shines through in his writing, is infectious and his readers love him for it.
- He’s built a close rapport with his readers by trusting them to police themselves on the blog. Where you might see snarkiness run rampant on sports blogs, Ed’s blog is usually clean – and if there’s a troublemaker, it’s not Ed who has to speak up, it’s the readers. The community keeps the house clean.
- He gives his readers hope by seeing the positives in his club and constantly thinking of how the team can go forward (as opposed to constantly criticising them). If you follow a sport, you’ll know the value of hope – and Ed gives that to his readers in spades.
- Ed shares himself – responding to each email personally, taking the time to answer comments (which in my estimate takes him an hour a day) and has given his readers what they want by going the extra mile to fulfill reader requests for things like team stats and adding a forum, which takes up even more of his personal time.
When it comes to talking about something he loves, Ed is incredibly charismatic. He’s been my benchmark for a while now, and he’s the perfect example of how a blogger can become #1 in his niche by sharing his passion and enthusiasm for a subject with others.
Barriers to being Charismatic
- Pride – Do you think you’re better than everyone else? How many arrogant, pompous, self-important bloggers do you know who are well-liked (and popular, for that matter)?
- Insecurity – If you’re not comfortable with who you are and lack confidence in yourself, how can you make others feel comfortable and confident about you?
- Moodiness – You may accept being nice one minute and snarky the other as perfectly acceptable behavior for yourself, but put it the other way around – how would you treat a person who behaved like this with you? Not with too much confidence and trust, I imagine.
- Perfectionism – Like it or not, no one’s perfect. A perfectionist zeal can cause to focus on the small stuff – the 20% of the problems that aren’t important. You may love to nitpick (I’m a sucker for it) but resist it the first time.
- Cynicism – Do you shoot down the ideas and opinions of others or do you encourage them to chase their dreams?
Self-analysis is a bitch – it makes you feel like hell and as a result most people resist the occasion to find flaws in themselves (you can’t be too self-critical though). I admit, I have all the traits I listed above, and for me it’s a conscious effort every day to not succumb to being cynical or snarky, and it’s quite tough at times to find the self-confidence to move forward with conviction.
However, I think that once you believe in something for long enough, it starts being your reality. In terms of habits, this is doubly true.
So take a good hard look at your blog and your own blogging habits. Chances are, you’re not doing everything as well as you thought you were. Chances are that you could use a gut-check and increase your blog’s charismatic appeal.
And to make it happen, there is just one thing you really need to remember:
When it comes to being charismatic, the bottom line is othermindedness.