Ask PW — How much “stuff” should you share?

“Here’s a question asked by a colleague —

‘How much of your ‘stuff’ do you share with your clients/students?’ She had been holding back a bit because she wanted to be seen as an expert. My advice was to share more of who she was as people relate to us more if we share parts of our journey and how we got to where we are today. So what do you think — how much do you share and how do you decide?”

Therese Skelly, asked on Facebook

Hi Therese,

I love this question because I don’t think this is talked about nearly enough. I totally agree with your answer — sharing personal stories is a great way for your prospects to feel like they know you, and people want to work with people they know, like and trust — but I do have 2 exceptions:

1. If you’re in the middle of a major breakdown or major life change, don’t share.

2. If what you’re sharing really does diminish you as an expert or in some other way really makes you look bad, don’t share.

But let me give you a bit more to chew on.

I know I’ve seen some people disagree with me on the first, which is fine. To each his own. But the problem is when you are in the middle of something big you lose your objectivity — and not just for the problem itself and your role in it but how you SOUND when you talk about it. You may think you’re doing this great service sharing all these details “no one” talks about when in reality you sound negative/complainey/whiney/depressed/obsessed/etc.

It’s much better to share your story once that chapter has concluded and you can also share the resolution and maybe even the teachings you received as a result of this breakdown.

For the second one, there’s a fine line between sharing your personal story and getting a little TOO personal. If you share something that very well could lead to people re-thinking working with you — for instance, sharing too many stories about unhappy clients wanting their money back. Even if you THINK you have a bigger point in there, you also could give someone considering hiring you pause.

So what are your thoughts about sharing personal stories? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.


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