Please Don’t Share This

Medical Flat IconOkay here goes … I’m not perfect.

I was emotionally and sexually abused as a young boy. I take medication for depression and anxiety. I struggle with shame and self-hatred on a daily basis.

And when I disclose this to clients and customers … it often leads to some of the highest quality, longest-lasting and most lucrative business relationships I’ve ever had.

Here’s why: When I risk the right amount of vulnerability, transparency and honesty in dealing with clients and prospects, it offers up an important opportunity to bond that goes beyond just doing business together.

It also helps people to Know, Like and Trust me – which are the three traits we all look for in choosing someone to do business with.

Transparency vs. Too Much

Now, notice I said “the right amount” of sharing. Because if you approach a client or prospect interaction like an episode of Oprah or Dr. Phil, cutting open a vein about your life issues, you will turn people off in a hurry and scare them away. I always try to err on the side of being honest or vulnerable without being dramatic or going into gory detail.

Birthday 2Also, it doesn’t have to be heavy issues. For example, since I work from home, I’m often in the midst of madness with our three young boys and Rosie the dog running around. My biggest client called the other day and started the conversion with, “What are you up to right now, John?”

“Well, I’m sitting at the kitchen table helping my five-year-old write a story about a talking penguin for his homework assignment,” I said, laughing. “You asked what I was doing right now, so…”

Now, I know this client has a couple of young kids, so he can relate to exactly what I’m talking about. I probably wouldn’t have said the same thing to a client with no family or young kids, but you get the idea.

Risk vs. Reward

It might feel like a HUGE risk to take this approach in how you do business and interact with clients. (And to some degree it is.) But what I’ve found is that doing this actually attracts the type of people I want to work with as clients, and it builds long-lasting, lucrative business relationships as a result.

Yes, I still need to provide you with a valuable product or service to earn your time, attention and money, but let’s face it – it’s more fun and fulfilling to run a business that skews toward personal relationships, hope and humanity as opposed to pure transactions.

Hiding vs. Honesty

In today’s social media-crazed environment, it’s easier than ever to hide your flaws and present the perfect and polished version of yourself to the professional world.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve only run across one truly perfect person in all of humanity … and they nailed him to a cross 2,000+ years ago. (Yes, I’m a huge fan of Jesus … more transparency leaking out of me!)

The truth is, all religion or anything else aside, none of us are perfect, and all of us need encouragement, affirmation and love more than we’d care to admit. We also tend to trust people more who don’t pretend to be perfect.

For example, it’s safe to assume that every single person reading this right now, at some point in his or her life, has let out a huge belch (or similar bodily emission!) by accident (or perhaps not?) at an inopportune time or in a public place. Or maybe you’ve tripped walking up the steps. (Something I do at least once a day.)

We love it when people share those types of imperfect and utterly human moments with us, because it makes them approachable and likable … doesn’t it?

Relational vs. Transactional

motivational unrealized potential ahead sign postHere’s one more example: I have no problem switching cell phone providers if I can get a better deal. The reason is that I have zero relationship with my cell phone provider, and (more important) they dont even try to build any type of meaningful relationship with me.

Now, ask me to leave a company or vendor who I’ve known, liked and trusted for years, and I’m much less likely to switch – even if you are offering me a lower price or better deal.

The Point of this Post

Now, what does all of this have to do with generating leads and using LinkedIn to do business?

The answer: Everything.

Remember, LinkedIn is a social network! I’ve shared before about how important humanized, 1-on-1 marketing is when it comes to LinkedIn. The fastest way to do that is to get personal … to engage someone else around his or her passions, dreams and desires … and then find a way your product or service can help move that person closer to those goals.

Your Turn

So … how about it? Are you willing to insert more of who you REALLY are into your dealings with clients and prospects? Why or why not?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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