Transparency. It has become the norm with social networking and online marketing. We each have our own barometer between too much information and not enough revealed.

Wikipedia states: “transparency in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. It is a metaphorical extension of the meaning a "transparent" object is one that can be seen through.”

Weaving transparency is important for an effective marketing message and branding. How much though is too much? This has been one of the most challenging areas I have wrestled with in social networking.

My training as a therapist has always reinforced the necessity to “remain a blank wall,” allowing the client to create her own picture about me. I always prided myself on sharing as little personal information as possible with my clients unless it benefitted them in some way. My clients knew I deeply cared about them; they just never knew much about me or my personal life.

So here comes social networking. Transparency is the “name of the game.” Well, I was immediately out of my comfort zone because it went against everything I had been doing in my counseling practice. My beliefs were getting in the way of progress.

Professional tenets, began to be questioned. Slowly I experimented with sharing parts of my life. At first I wasn’t sure what to say. That unease was probably reflected in my message.

I continue to explore how much to share about me and my life. My coach continues to encourage me to reveal more. There were suggestions I resisted, but after letting them simmer for awhile I always gave it a shot. I trust her and know she wants the best for me.

Revealing parts about my life was uncomfortable. I felt very vulnerable. I had always been a private person. Connecting to others through social networking was more important to me than firmly holding onto my beliefs. Now was the time to step out of my comfort zone.

Okay, I was ready to do what was necessary. Of course, I made mistakes along the way. Sometimes I can be very opinionated. Other times I was resistant. Using video was one of the biggest hurdles to get past.

There are some people who I feel are way over the top. They share TMI (too much information). This was actually helpful for figuring out what I felt was inappropriate. At an event where Mari Smith spoke she helped me determine the difference between personal and private. Basically if I was not comfortable with something being a headline on the New York Times, then it was private. Okay. I could work with that.

Social networking and your marketing campaign is designed to build relationships. There is value to allowing people to catch a glimpse behind the curtain. Transparency helps to foster the relationship.

People buy from someone they know, like and trust. If I don’t know someone providing a service I need, then I will ask my friends and associates if they know of someone. That feels much more comfortable than picking someone out of a phone book or Google.

In order to reach your ideal client, you must take that first step in creating a relationship. As they know, like and trust you they will begin to see you as a resource and the person to help solve their problem. Isn’t that what you wanted all along?

Activity: So think about where you might be holding yourself back. Do you know why? Is it because it is uncomfortable for you? You feel vulnerable? There is always the possibility someone might disagree with you. I know you will be judged by others. That is just a matter of fact.

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From Loren Fogelman, the success expert, founder of Mindset for Marketing Success.