As you scroll through your social media feeds these days, do you find there is just a lot of noise and no real conversations? Lots of people talking for sure, but no one having real conversations and making true connections. If there is no connection being made, authentic relationships are not being made. You can smell the “I’M SELLING” a mile away. Everyone is trying to push their own agenda, and frankly, it’s exhausting.
So here’s the big question – How do you build authentic connections online?
The challenge is to do so in an EMPOWERING way rather than trying to IMPRESS the pants off your audience – this may be particularly true for coaches.
An impresser wants to tell you what they know and what they think – no exchange, just looking for an “Oh ah, aren’t you fabulous!” versus sharing information to build rapport, trust and connection. But what happens when it’s not a 2-way platform like face-to-face? Good question! You may be trying to build connections online and it may not always be possible to have a two-way conversation (for example in Facebook live where it’s more a teacher discourse). This is where a Journey Map and Content Plan is so important for any business wanting to connect with their ideal audience online. (If you missed my Brand Basics article last month on journey maps, read here).
Many Coaches appear to think that they have to BE a “guru” and impress their audience. I loved Benay’s Letter from the Editor last month where she talks about The Guru Model: that egoic construct, wanting to be seen a certain way by others; making people feel like they need you; to feel incomplete without us and with manipulative, profit-driven marketing strategies. Empowerment is when we can hold their hand as a guide, lead the way and inspire them. As Benay shares, ‘You are here to help your clients find the answers in them and plug them into resources that are in alignment with where they want to go’, not tell them the way.
How much personal information should you reveal to build connection?
Self-disclosure is a delicate issue. If you get it right, it can strengthen relationships, instill trust, and boost your ability to inspire and lead. But if you make unwise, inappropriate or untimely disclosures, it can have the opposite effect. Self-disclosure promotes attraction when not overdone. People feel a sense of closeness to others who reveal their vulnerabilities, innermost thoughts, and facts about themselves – when done right. Being authentically vulnerable is sharing a challenge you’ve been through, how you overcame it and how you now help others to do the same – not IMPRESSING…INSPIRING!
If you tend to want to IMPRESS others, you are competing with impressive stories (and let’s be honest – they may not want to hear all your hero stories). But when you come from a place of sharing as a guide, that adds value and engages with others authentically – you build trust and ultimately CONNECTION.
Which then leads me to the point that stories absolutely have a time and place.
In fact they should be a very important part of your content. They help people relate, put your message in context for the audience, and positions you as a guide. But here’s the tip – Don’t play the hero, play the GUIDE. Stop telling your story and start inviting people into your story. Try reorienting your focus so that instead of espousing your heroic accomplishments you find out what your audience wants to accomplish and help them get there. This shift in focus puts you in the role of the guide. Being the guide for your client is a massive key. If you can make that shift in your thinking then they will love you for it, and help you build lasting connections. Get this right and you won’t have to sell a thing, they’ll be asking to do business with you.
With that Guru Model approach, you’re not empowering people when you tell your impressive stories, you are competing for power. Competing and empowering are at opposite ends of the continuum. Think about the people you want to be around or you’ve been drawn to – are they telling their stories to impress you or are they a guide and holding space for you to step up? When Simon Sinek was asked how to captivate an audience, he shared: “Change your perspective to I show up to give”. You have to show up with a giving attitude. You know something, you’ve tried something and you want to share it.
He goes on, “the problem is the number of people who show up to take, to get, and you can see it, it’s plain to see. They have a taking mentality. The 1st thing they say when they show up is to tell you their credentials ‘Hi my name is bla de ba, I’ve worked for 55 companies, I’ve advised CEOs and Generals…’, and it’s all about them. It’s very easy and quick to discern who’s the giver and who’s the taker. The best TED Talk speakers are all there to give. None of them want anything, not even your approval. A standing ovation is not the reason they show up; it’s to give.”
If you are unsure about how to connect with your audience, ask yourself: Am I showing up to give, or to take?
Thanks for reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts.