Why being authentic is essential for brand building

I was chatting to a number of amazing women entrepreneurs yesterday at the Lioness Lean In breakfast event in Johannesburg, and an interesting topic came up in conversation - the need for authenticity when it comes to building a business and a brand. Sometimes entrepreneurs have a tendency to think they have to present themselves differently when pitching to clients for new business, or speaking at an event where they are hoping to engage and win new clients over. In fact I was at a pitching session recently where I knew one of the entrepreneurs presenting, but hardly recognised them when it came to delivering their big pitch as they had removed the very essence of what made them unique. Authenticity is about being genuine, not adapting ourselves and changing the way we present ourselves and our businesses depending on who we are talking to. Plus, when we are not presenting our authentic selves, others can sense that something is off key. Ultimately, people make connections and choose to do business with other people based on authenticity, and when you’re authentic it automatically builds trust. And remember, trust is the key foundation of a business. Oprah Winfrey once said on the subject: "I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I've become. If I had, I'd have done it a lot earlier."