by Shoshana Cenker

Limited in-person contact. Social distancing. Working — or trying to work —at home with kids around who are doing distance learning. Stay-at-home orders. TP hoarding. Soap and hand sanitizer price gouging…

Life certainly has changed for nearly every person on the planet. Amirite?! Thing is, we still have to move forward with our lives—continue working (if possible), paying the bills, feeding our families, educating our kids. 

In this “new normal” how are we supposed to press on ahead as best we can, especially with our jobs? How do we stay connected to our clients, employers and employees in a meaningful way?

Well, here at Thinkwell Creative, we kind of have the upper hand. See, we’re a small-size, full-service marketing and communications company. Our talented team is a rogue band of wordsmithing, graphic-designing, marketing and communications ninjas who've chosen to use our powers for good. 

And here’s the upper hand part: We’ve been successful and expertly working from home for years now. Sure, we meet up occasionally for conferences and meetings, with our team and with clients, but the majority of our work is handled remotely. (In fact, we’ve just created a super-helpful video series of pro tips that’s all about how to work from home successfully. Make sure you check that out!)

While millions of people are just now learning how to work productively without face-to-face and in-office interactions, we’ve been there, done that. This ain’t our first rodeo. And we do it really, really well. How do we know? We have numerous loyal clients — and we’re growing with new business, too.

Here’s the secret

So, what’s the best way to truly engage clients, potential clients, your own organization and anyone else who might stumble upon your work, messages or posts? 

It’s actually something rather simple that often gets overlooked. 

Drum roll…

Telling personal stories.

Didn’t think we’d say that, did you?

Even without human in-person interactions, we can still connect in a genuine way. Hooray! 

Here’s how: Share a personal story or anecdote when you’re talking with clients or in your written communications. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. It should be something that humanizes you, enabling you to create a connection with the person on the other end. 

Share something others can relate to, sympathize with or empathize with. Don’t be a robot, folks. 

Did you notice that I just did it at the beginning of this piece? You probably didn’t even realize it was happening. See, I know that you’re likely social distancing; or you have kids at home; and maybe you did a Target run and were frustrated that all the toilet paper was gone. I shared information that you can relate to in one way or another. That intro paragraph created our connection for three main reasons — it was: 

  1. personal
  2. relatable
  3. the truth

So, I touched on numbers 1 and 2. Let’s briefly talk about #3. Whatever personal story you share must be true and sincere. Not forced and not fake. People can smell deceit and trickery a mile away. Their BS alarm will sound if you’re not genuine. 

Keep this in mind too — your personal story doesn’t have to be in-depth or super-detailed. Don’t overthink it. Whatever naturally comes to mind, share briefly and organically. And this is important: If you’re having a conversation with someone, and they begin to respond with their own story — listen. Actively listening builds rapport and gives you insight. 

How the heck do I do this?

Well, now you might be thinking: This makes sense, but how do I do that?

No worries, we’ve got your covered. Let me throw out a few examples to get your brain wheels spinning in a good way…

  • Perhaps you can share that you might be having a little cabin fever. And you’ve started taking walks outside for a brain break and to get some fresh air. Surely people can relate to that nowadays.
  • With everyone at home, you can express how grateful you are to be with your family more. Maybe you’ve started cooking dinner together, which is rewarding.
  • In these challenging times, you’ve noticed how this difficulty brings out the best in people — and provide a specific example: college kids picking up and delivering food to senior citizens who can’t leave their home.
  • If you’re on a Zoom meeting call, look in the background. Do you see a framed photo of a dog? Share a brief story about your own pup. 
  • This one always works: ask questions, then tailor your personal story to them. See a fishing rod in the background on a video chat call? Ask them about it. Maybe you have a story about a fishing mishap or perhaps your grandfather liked to fish. Ask them about art you see hanging on their wall. Then you can talk about the style of art you like the most.

Look, everyone has a story. We know because we tell clients’ stories for a living. See, some agencies sell campaigns to clients. Others pitch the depth of their services. At Thinkwell, we get hired to tell stories, and we sure to love telling them.

No matter what your story is, make sure it’s personal and honest. Whether your target audience is your own team, clients or potential new clients — tell a personal story

That’s exactly what we do here at Thinkwell: We cut through to the heart of what clients want to say with powerful words (and insanely eye-pleasing graphic design!). The result is an interesting mix of creativity, where practical meets magical.

Talking nerdy

Let’s geek out for a hot second, this is really cool…

Sharing a personal story can literally give the person on the other end all the “good feels.” When that happens, sparks shoot around in your brain. Neuroscience has proven that this is a measurable, research-validated phenomenon. In fact, the stronger the connection two people make — the more they "click." And, brain scans have documented it. Amazing, right?!

Research also shows that our brains are wired to connect — and over time, humans have developed in a way to work with and adapt to others. Well, we’re surely having to do that right now, aren’t we? While we may not be able to form connections in person these days, we can still create impactful bonds over the phone, internet, video chats. After all, we’re in a digital age, commonly referred to as the Connected Revolution. We can definitely make the most of it.

Take a gander at Thinkwell Creative’s fun and informative Bright ideas for how to WORKwell from your new home office series. These videos are packed with actionable info and, of course, some personal stories to help you keep calm and get creative. 

And remember, sharing a little bit of you with a personal story can go a very long way in business… and in life. What story will you tell today?