The other day I was chatting to my friend Kandice and she said something that at the time made me spit out my coffee. She said that vulnerability is sexy in business.
My first thoughts was that she had to be crazy to even entertain the idea, but I was intrigued so I let her explain her point.
She went on to say...
Soph, I know that vulnerability and business hardly conjure up images of cutting edge and sexy. We typically think about vulnerability in terms of being weak, sad, and pathetic. This is hardly the kind of message you want your business to send people, right? There is actually more to vulnerability than meets the eye as I have learned over the past year.
I still wasn't convinced so I asked her to explain further, trust me you will be amazed at how Kandice argues her point.
I was teaching a group of 2nd graders a few months ago. I had been reading a book that just want not grabbing their attention. They were getting antsy, so I made a decision to ditch the book and tell them a story about my childhood.
I quickly recalled a funny story in kindergarten when my friends and I were being sneaky and ending up breaking a table.
"It all began with me playing with my friends during free choice time in kindergarten in Ms. Fisher's classroom at my school called---," I began.
Before I could finish my sentence I heard a voice yell out, "Ms. Washington, I got a question."
I looked up and saw the gleaming eyes of a young girl, who had been having a pretty difficult time behaving herself in class for most of the day. She also had a knack for asking really bizarre questions at random times, which usually sent the class into an uproar. I was bracing myself for the worst when I nervously said, "Yes, what's your question?"
"Is this story real?" she asked innocently leaning in waiting for my answer.
"This story is real. It really happened to me when I was little," I said, wondering why that was so important to her.
"Oohh, yay!," she said excitedly. She sat up taller and eagerly listened to me really tell the rest of the story. Not one peep out of her for the duration of my story as she hung on to my every word.
This story illustrates two important points. First, I realized that not every story, no matter how compelling, will guarantee buy-in from people. I had read other stories that were interesting and that young girl never paid any attention. In the same vein, your customers and clients may not respond to just any old story/brand/message that you are pushing, even if it sounds or looks good.
The second thing I realized is that people are fascinated with real experiences and stories that resonate in some way to their own experience. I don't know if my childhood story was that interesting but that student did not care. She only cared that I was sharing something really special with her about my experience. She also connected to this being about my mischievous side, as that was her specialty in class. Your clients want your unique story and perspective. That is what will get them to sit up taller and take notice of the work you are doing. Being authentic and genuine in your business is what vulnerability is all about.
Many of the greatest moguls, brands and businesses have achieved mega success because they have fully embraced vulnerability. They are willing to put themselves out there fully. They are willing to bring groundbreaking ideas to light and share with the world regardless of what people think. Steve Jobs. Richard Branson. Adele. Oprah. The list goes on.
It was at that point that I understood what Kandice meant, she wasn't talking about vulnerability in the pathetic kind of way. She was in fact stating that being yourself, being real is something that connects you with your audience. I received an email from a client of mine the other day and she told me that she felt disconnected from her clients, maybe that is also your current reality. If this is the case perhaps you could try and be Vulnerable with them, share a story an experience and re-connect.
Remember that people buy you, not your products or service. Your business is an extension of you so don't put the walls up.
Kandice then finished by saying...
Practicing and embracing vulnerability in business attracts your right people, your willing-to-pay clients to you with much more ease. You attract success and favorable circumstances because people know exactly what they are getting from you. Vulnerability is pure truth. Truth is like a bright light that draws people into what you are doing with your business.
So over to you, what can you do today to re-connect with your audience and show them the real you?