Vulnerable. It’s a buzz word in the expert industry. Something that you do – on purpose – to show you’re human. To help people relate to you. Experts talk about when they shared their vulnerabilities with their prospects or clients, amazing things happened.
And I pretty much dismissed it as a marketing ploy.
Sure, I love to hear about the trials and triumphs in someone’s life and business. It taps into that part of my brain that also loves gossip and looking at tabloid photos while I’m waiting in the grocery store checkout line.
But true vulnerability? That piece of a soul that is too delicate to be touched, but that still could be shared. There was a part of me that scoffed. Who really wants to put all that out on the Internet for everybody to read? Who wants to read it? What’s the REAL purpose?
But can I tell you something? When you get really vulnerable – the type that makes you squirm a bit – BIG stuff happens.
However – and this is a big caveat – it can’t be for an ulterior motive! If you’re getting “vulnerable” for the “Look at me! Look at me!” part of your personality that isn’t real vulnerability. That’s narcissism.
And because I have strong feelings about the line between private and public, I’ve never gotten really vulnerable in a public forum. (If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you get more back story but it’s never been really raw.)
Until last week.
Last week I had a nightmare that woke me up at 12:38 am. By 1:18 am I was STILL tossing and turning. So I grabbed the laptop and opened up a new Word doc. I was going to tell off some cyber bullies and get some stuff off my chest. I was going to be brutally honest about some stuff I’d been carrying around for years. This was stuff that didn’t REALLY matter or impact my day-to-day life. In a lot of ways, it was ancient history.
But here I was: Wide awake from a nightmare, feeling like I had had too much caffeine, and I KNEW I wouldn’t be able to sleep until this was out of my head and off my chest. All of it: what had been my faults and shortcomings AND where I felt I’d been unfairly treated.
And hour and 2,494 words later… I felt better. But then the question came: Did I share this or just rest easier that I’d “let it out”?
If you remember by article about how a personal rant can engage your readers, you’ll know that I’m very deliberate with what I post on blogs and social media. Everything is intentional.
And this was… Big. I really laid my heart (and hurts) on the line.Using vulnerability to connect with your #readers - the right way. Click To Tweet
But the crux of the matter was that I had a sinking suspicion that my story would matter to other people. That they could relate. (And that’s actually kind of a sad thing. I wish this was an isolated experience) I also had a suspicion that it wouldn’t be good to NOT post it.
So I posted it. And sent it out to a newsletter list of 3,600 people.
And what happened?
People related. I got emails and TWENTY-THREE comments on the article. People posted the link on Facebook and MORE discussion was sparked.
Through it all I felt… exposed.
And none too happy about my decision.
I felt like I was airing dirty laundry. I felt like SOMEBODY was going to call me on the “story” and say that I was doing it to draw attention to me.
Vulnerable is uncomfortable. But when it’s NOT done from the “Look at me! Look at me!” place, it is a GREAT way to engage with readers, prospects, and clients. It’s not about making excuses – it’s about sharing humanity.
So the next time you’ve got something heavy on your heart… think about sharing it. Just remember that the “Look at me!” part of your personality isn’t the part that needs to have the spotlight. You’re sharing to show others that yes, you’re a real person behind your words and that you have a real life.
When’s the last time you wrote (and shared) something really vulnerable? What happened?
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