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Lessons From a Viral Post on LinkedIn

I recently posted this on LinkedIn:

I received an e-mail today from a 14 year old boy in India addressed to “Daniel Sir.” He told me of his passion for business. He loves to read annual reports and anything related to the stock market. He said it would be so meaningful to him if I would send him a signed copy of The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read. Of course, I told him I would and encouraged him to pursue his passion. He has already made my day. I’m struck by how much satisfaction I derive from responding to these kinds of requests. It helps me keep everything else in perspective.

It received thousands of views and many “likes.”

I often post my blogs on social media.  They don’t generate nearly as much interest.

I think I know why.

An emotional connection

The story about the boy from India made an emotional connection with my contacts.  The point I was trying to make clearly resonated:  Helping others is intrinsically rewarding.

If I had written about a new offering from our business, it might have been of modest interest to a segment of my contacts, but it would have generated only a fraction of the views.

The story was relatable.  I suspect many who read it could recall a similar act of kindness they engaged in and how much satisfaction it gave them.

Lessons learned

Stories about experiences are likely to be more impactful than using data or engaging in other efforts to persuade your contacts to use your services.

Stories can also reveal something about you that’s difficult to convey otherwise.  A story about overcoming a challenge (running a marathon, losing weight, conquering your fear of public speaking) give readers an insight into your character.

Stories build trust. 

Most advisors believe building trust means demonstrating your expertise (known as “cognitive trust”).  While having the necessary expertise is important, don’t ignore “affective trust”.

Affective trust is established when there’s an emotional connection.  It transcends competence.  When you have achieved affective trust, you believe the other person’s concern for your welfare is much more than a commercial relationship.

In your personal life, you may have experienced affective trust with your dentist, your physician, your pharmacist, your accountant, and others.  You believe there’s no way these people would take advantage of you, even they could easily do so.

Stories that show who you really are, build affective trust.

Here’s an important caveat: Your website, and posts on social media, are very different from in-person meetings.  They are basically one-way communications (although you can interact with comments on social media). 

While stories are an effective form of communication in written form, you should avoid telling them in in-person meetings.  Instead, your goal when meeting with prospects and clients should be to elicit their stories. 

Doing so will have a transformational impact on your relationships.

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