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 I just finished unsubscribing from a bunch of email lists this morning. Some of them were lists of people who are pretty highly regarded online. You’d know the names if I typed them.Why did I do that? Honestly, I’m just tired of the constant, hokey, salesy, automated messages. “Gary – Join me for my new ‘how to get everything you ever wanted out of life’ FREE webinar.” Yeah. No thanks.The automation and insincerity can get a bit much for me. I don’t intentionally block off time to go online and use machines to talk to machines. I like to go online and use machines to connect with real people. I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.I’m going to share with you five big-time Transparent Integrity Strategies that your readers will love. I have used them successfully, and the blogs that I follow blindly use most of them as well. Try them out. You’ll notice a difference…and I guarantee your readers will notice.

1. Show That You’re Real

Most bloggers present themselves as infallible experts. Constantly asserting and reiterating your expertise gets old – and raises suspicion that maybe you’re compensating for something. How about showing some vulnerability? Write about an important lesson you learned one time by really screwing the pooch. Drop in a relevant detail here and there about your family or your personal life. Don’t overdo it, but show that you’re a real, imperfect person with a real, imperfect life. Show that while you may be an authority figure, you make mistakes just like everyone else. Here’s a post about my imperfect life. It’s one of the most popular ones I’ve written to date.

2. Thank Your New Social Media Followers Personally – Not Just Automatically

People are smart. They know what an automated message looks like. When you get a new follower on any social network, take the time to thank each person with a hand-typed message. Be very cautious with automated messages because they can come off as slimy. Sure, typing a personal message takes longer – but it’s a great way to build relationships and capture loyal readers who share your content with others. 

3. When Someone Subscribes to Your Email List Send Them A Personal Email

A  PERSONAL  EMAIL.Yes, I know that you spent a lot of time on your autoresponder welcome email series – and I’m sure it’s awesome. But again…we all know what an autorepsonder email looks like. We don’t mind getting them, but we appreciate personal attention much, much more.When you see a new subscriber, type a few sentences to them by hand like, “Hey Bill! This isn’t an automated message – I just saw a notification hit my inbox that you subscribed and I wanted to personally say thanks. I don’t give my email address to just anyone, and I assume you don’t either, so I appreciate that very much.”Then you can go into asking questions about them, about their impressions of your site or whatever you want. The point is that you will make a much bigger statement and make a much better impression by taking a few minutes to write a short, personal note.[ois skin=”Long Skinny”] 

4. When Appropriate – Mention Your Readers In Your Content

If you can make a point that’s relevant to your topic and use one of your own readers as an example, do it. Not only does it make that individual reader feel good, but it broadcasts to everyone that your blog is a tight-knit community. 

5. Research And Engage Your Readers

Not STALK your readers…this is crucial…just research. I don’t mean find out where they live on Google Maps or check their credit scores or anything like that. What I mean is that most people have some sort of online presence – and most have a web site.Spend some time on their Twitter or Facebook pages and go read their site if they have one. Shoot them an email about things you see there that you like. Ask questions about those things. I have built some great relationships and picked up a few tips for my own blog by engaging my readers via email.The point of all these moves is to treat your readers as more than just an open wallet. Sure, sell ebooks, or coaching, or training – or whatever it is that you sell. But the number one thing you should be selling is you. Strong relationships are the key in any business. Not only is it better for your business, but you’ll make some amazing contact with some amazing people along the way.

 What about you? How do you engage your readers on a personal level? What impersonal online stuff drives you crazy? What other personal touches have you seen that you’d like to share?