Let's talk about a rather nebulous trait: personality.
Many people who we come into contact with have amazing personalities, in person, and then we go check out their content (their blogs, articles, videos, books, etc), and it's totally flat and stale—or what we often describe as very institutional or corporate feeling.
We're going to tell you to do the exact opposite. That is not at all what your clients and prospects really want. They want to know who you really are. Think about it this way, the way that you connect with people is really based on a scale of how much you can relate to them, i.e. how much they are like you. For example, if you are a 35 year old housewife, and a 25 year old stockbroker with no kids who works 80 hours per week tries to give you advice on how to raise your kids, how do you think you'd take it? Probably not real well. Agree?
So, if you want to build your personal brand and be perceived as an expert by your audience, ultimately your expertise has to align with your personality and who you're trying to connect with. Although scary at times, that means you have to let people in on who you are. We've heard it said before that it's 10 percent what you know and 90 percent the other stuff. We're not positive that ratio is exactly right, but it does a great job at making the point that "people have to know you before they'll listen to you." That's what my friend James Malinchak says and we agree. People have to know you before they'll be willing to listen to you because if they don't know who you are then they don't know if they should take your advice. So, you've got to let them in. That also means you can and likely need to show them your quirks and idiosyncrasies. Some experts choose to get into politics, religion and everything else, that's totally your call whether you want to go that far or not, but it is important for you to know that the more polarizing you are, the more magnetic you will become to those who are like you. It's a really interesting phenomenon that through the things you say and do, the more you let people know who you really are and let them into your innermost being, the more they'll either see themselves or see they're not like you.
And the more polarizing you are, the more you'll push some people away too, but the people who identify with you will be even more attracted to you. If there's any personality that you are aware of right now that you cannot stand, and you can't possibly understand how they have the following they have, it's because of this rule. There are people who feel like them and the more polarizing they are the more they're drawn to them.
We want you to focus on showing more of your personality. You can do this online and offline. We have lots of great online tools that will allow you to get started instantly. Facebook, for example, is a great tool because you can share literally anything on Facebook—videos, links, pictures, blogs, articles, anything you want. And people can start to understand who you are, even if the information you are posting is not anything that you created on your own! By sharing content that appeals to you, you are becoming a curator of content, and that content will appeal to others who share the same interests with you, people who are like you. That's ultimately what you're doing on Facebook for your circle of friends— you're showing them things you think they'd be interested in.
Another great tool is Flickr.com. Flickr is a really neat social photo and video sharing service. I (Nick) don't usually go to Flickr.com and post a lot of photos, but I use an application called Posterous.com anytime I take a photo or a video on my iPhone and I email it to Post@Posterous.com and it automatically posts the photo or video on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and just about any other social network that I want to post it to.
Sometimes I'll post funny pictures or videos of my kids. Sometimes I'll post a video from a seminar I'm attending or I'll link to a blog I really like from Mashable.com of FastCompany. Why? Because when you let people see parts of your everyday life and it allows you to start showing another dimension of who you really are. You give them bite-sized glimpses of your personality.
We call these "personal hooks." The more you're willing to share who you really are with people, the more personal hooks you throw out. If I (Nick) tell you that I used to play tennis for four hours a day in high school, that I got recruited to go play tennis in college, that I love the Florida Gators, but not as much as my wife because she's only missed like eight home football games since she was seven years old, (she even goes to the games where the gators play teams like "Upper Lower Northeastern Southwestern State" and those are the games I'd stay home from!). If I told you we have a five year old son, and a two and a half year old son, and that my two and a half year old broke my LCD TV last month and my new iPhone this month, you'd then realize you probably shouldn't give my two year old your electronics, but you'd know much more than that!
The more I tell you, the more you're going to know about me and you're likely going to find something that you're interested in too that you can use to connect with me, something that gives us some common ground, and that's ultimately my goal and when building your personal brand that should be your goal as well. You've got to give people reasons to want to like you, reasons they'll be attracted to you, think they're like you and ultimately trust you and do business with you.
We're going to share one last secret with you in this post that will help you share your personality while also helping you convert your personality into sales. This is the formula for what we call an "Origin Story." You should use your origin story a lot. You're going to recognize the format from your favorite Richard Simmons infomercial, or something similar, but here's how it works. We're going to a weight loss infomercial style example, because it's an easy one to follow and to recognize the core elements of what you need.
Here is an example of an origin story for an expert in the weightloss realm:
"Hi, I'm Jim and I'm 6'2", weigh 140 pounds and I'm built like a brick and I get more dates than I've ever gotten in my entire life. I used to have my life, but now I absolutely love every moment of my life."—Part 1 is you tell them who you are now.
This next part, you need to use these magic words or something similar, "but it hasn't always been this way." These words allow you to connect to the rest of the world because the first part of your origin story where you show how happy and fulfilled you are, can make a lot of people want to shut down and stop listening to you because you just sound like another successful person bragging about how successful you are.
But when you say, "But it hasn't always been this way." Their mind starts to turn back on and they think, "Wait a minute." Then you tell them how much you used to be just like them. Again, in our example, the story would probably go something like "I used to be 500 pounds. Used to use my exercise bike in the bedroom to hang clothes from. I used to feel like people were always laughing at me, it was hard to get out of bed every morning, didn't have the confidence to get a date, I was lonely." You're now telling your audience the part of the story that they can identify with.
You tell the audience all the ways you used to be just like them. Then you move to the third part of your origin story, the secret.
"Until I discovered _____" Now, the audience is dying to know the secret. The secret, of course, is usually the product or service you're promoting that can help them overcome their issue, their "point of pain."
In our example, this next part would look something like this: "Until I discovered my 10 step formula" or "Until I discovered this new product." You tell them whatever it is that is the secret to solve their problem, which is followed up with the magic words, "And now I can show you how you can do the same thing."
So, to recap the 4 part formula for your origin story:
1. You show the audience how successful you are, which actually can build some resentment because your audience will think, "That's what I want to be, but I'm not. This person must be special, and I'm not, so now they're just bragging and rubbing it in my face, so I don't like this person."
2. "But it wasn't always this way" and you tell them how you used to be just like them.
3. "Until I discovered" which then makes the audience perk up because they see that you aren't that special, you just found the secret, and of course now they're dying to know.
4. "And now I can show you how you can do it too." This shows your audience that you really aren't any different from them, you just found the secret they haven't found, and now you are willing to share it with them too. They'll love you and they'll be willing to pay for your secret if it relieves a great pain in their personal or professional life.
There you have it. That's the formula for the origin story. It will allow you to show your personality as well as the reason why your audience should listen to you and follow what you have to say.
To recap: Show your personality, let people know who you really are, utilize an origin story and your business just get bigger and better.
JW Dicks (@jwdicks) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors that consult for small- and medium-sized businesses on how to build their business through Personality Driven Marketing, Personal Brand Positioning, Guaranteed Media, and Mining Hidden Business Assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at their Web site. Jack and Nick have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, FastCompany.com, and many more media outlets.