We’re hearing a lot these days about the need to let people know you’re human. If you’re working with a marketing coach, you’re probably being challenged to tell your own heroic story, such as … …

  • Your big life-changing moment
  • Your mission to make sure nobody else has to go through what you experienced
  • Your rags to riches story

and so on.

Some people are so carried away with the idea they’re making up stories. One coach talks about being broke and discouraged five years ago. But I remember talking to her five years ago. She’d just sold one business and her new coaching business was taking off. She was selling her “big back end” product every single week. She wasn’t broke and she was not at all discouraged; she was so chirpy she was driving me nuts.

Some people want to own a business but just don’t have a hero story. And they’re doing just fine, thank you very much.

So how do you come across as human, with or without that hero story?

(1) If you work with clients as a coach, especially a life coach, you probably need to give a sense of yourself as a three-dimensional person. Still, you have to decide how much (or how little) to share…and whether some info could misfire or backfire. Prospects may be nervous about calling if you’ve written about personal problems.

If you are more of a techie or a marketing pro, your readers value your knowledge. Some marketing coaches send out totally factual impersonal ezines, year after year, with a great deal of success.

(2) Present yourself as successful.

Psychologists have found that when a really successful person comes across as vulnerable, that person will be respected and appreciated. But if someone who’s less than successful uses the same tactic, it will backfire.

You have no control over the way readers will interpret the stages of your hero’s journey. If you say, “I struggled for years…” you might be viewed as slow to catch on. On my first website, I wrote about being a free spirit who pretty much moved wherever I wanted. To my surprise, some readers thought I was willing to take off impulsively, when in fact I always had a Plan B and a significant cash reserve. Needless to say, that story got changed.

Your readers’ response will be influenced by geography. A “great” New York apartment may seem pretty awful in some parts of the world. I used to talk about riding the bus until I realized people thought I must be really poor. In big cities, rich people take public transportation. It’s faster than a private limo.

(3) Decide what to share. Use your blog to add some personal flavor. You can throw in references to your personal life as a way to share a point you want to make. Jeanette Cates wrote about buying a new car. Tthat’s a double whammy – she showed us she’s successful (not that anybody doubted) and she showed herself as a 3D person (“first car in twenty years). I’ve used improv and ceramics to make points on my own blog.

(4) For social media, pick 3 areas that you’re going to post to show your personal side. I picked WNBA basketball, animal rescue and Philadelphia. Occasionally I talk about improv or pottery. And that’s it.
Some people choose topics like gourmet cooking.

(5) Showing you’re a 3D person doesn’t mean you share everything. We’re seeing people show everything from fifty-year-old honeymoon photos to stories of personal family issues to … anything. Sometimes when I read my Facebook posts I feel like I’ve intruded on a personal conversation. The problem is that a lot of people want to know you professionally.

They want to know just enough about you to feel comfortable working with you. But I’m convinced a lot of people (not just me) would be happier with less sharing and more substance.

We tend to feel our Facebook readers are family, but they’re not. Last year when my wonderful cat died, I posted on my dog’s blog, but decided not to share with Facebook. Most of them don’t know me that well and they certainly didn’t know Ophelia. Giving empathy takes energy. I know I feel exhausted when I read one story after another of a lost pet or family member.

I did post some photos of our newest family member, Pumpkin, and suspect some readers might have wondered, “Where did she come from?” But nobody asked and I figured they got all the info they wanted. Period.

So… I bet at least some readers vehemently disagree with me! Share your thoughts below in the Comments section. Don’t see comments? Click on the title of the post for a new page.