Vulnerability has gained a lot of traction and attention in recent years. As emotional responsibility becomes more valued in the professional world (and a little late, if you ask me), it’s essential to figure out how to be vulnerable for your professional and personal life.
You might be the kind of person who likes to be private, to keep personal information personal, and hold their cards close to their chest. And that’s okay. What I set out to do with any of these posts is help you navigate these things you should be taking part in, but in a way that is comfortable for you.
Like I said in my last post on networking, while there are certain things you will have to do to reach your goal, you can tailor that path to your liking.
If you don’t like sharing your personal life with the world, that’s really okay. Disclosure is like a tightrope we walk, toeing the line between being closed off and oversharing. In order to connect with your audience, you need to open up a little. You want people to see that you’re human.
Vulnerability doesn’t have to be scary! You might think vulnerability involves disclosing your deepest, darkest fears and trauma, but it doesn’t have to (though if that fits with your creative style, and you want to, then go for it).
So how do we connect with our audience through vulnerability?
Like I said before, you want to show people that you are a human. Don’t try to sell your work all the time — that’s a big no-no and will send people running faster than tossing them bags of flaming dog doo. (Too gross?) Seriously though, overselling is something I see creatives do all the time and it’s a big mistake. People follow you to see what you do, what you love, hear your thoughts and opinions, have conversations with you. Give them what they want!
What are some things that are vulnerable but not too personal? Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Show behind the scenes. Post a picture of your workspace. Your favorite coffee shop. A place or thing that’s a source of creative inspiration. Your pet(s)! It doesn’t have to be personal, you just want to connect on a human level with people who don’t get to interact with you in-person.
Talk about your failures. Again, this could be less personal. Talk about your collection of rejection letters (we all have them). Scared to read your writing or show your art in public? Eat garbage because you’re working nonstop? Talk about it! There are a lot of other people out there with the same fears and failures that you have, and they will infinitely appreciate hearing that they aren’t alone.
Have conversations. Ask people about themselves. Get to know them. And in doing so, offer up a little information about yourself if you can related to what they’re saying. Make them feel like you care that they’re around, because you do!
Tell them your favorite things! This could work out even better than you expected if you have a public Amazon wishlist (KIDDING). Seriously though, this is a pretty impersonal, positive way to bond with the people who want to get to know you. You get to talk about something that makes you happy, and when other people like that thing too, you can bond with each other and nerd out! There’s a reason why fandoms have cult followings. People love talking about their favorite things.
Give some backstory. Have a work you created that’s autobiographical? I thought you might. Give people the story of why you created it. Where were you at mentally and emotionally? What was the inspiration? Disclose the stories you feel comfortable disclosing, but most of us have at least one.
I hope these tips give you some ideas for how to open up! If this post helped you out, share what you did in the comments below, or post it on Twitter and tag me (@estochen)!