Back in journalism school, I wholeheartedly embraced the reporter “fly-on-the-wall” concept. As journalists, we were to be invisible outsiders to what we were covering. Certainly, we would keep our personalities and our personal lives out of our professional lives. We were to be strictly business in our work.

For ages, I think professionals in many if not most industries took that same approach. I think we were wrong.

For most of us, work defines us. It also is consuming more of our time as boundaries between work and personal dissolve as at all hours we respond to work emails and monitor professional social networking sites. Our sources, customers and vendors want to know us as real, complete people. As they get to know us better, our relationships strengthen, and they’re more likely to do business with us and refer us to others.

We have social media to thank for showing us and pushing us to share our complete selves with our professional contacts.

Last week while listening to an audio course on public speaking from The Great Courses, I learned that public speaking experts also urge us to reveal more of ourselves when we present to groups.

Open yourself up to your audience and be willing to share your vulnerabilities and failures, advises professor John Hale of the University of Louisville in his The Great Courses lecture, “The Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History.”

“You’re wanting people to know you right away,” Hale says. “Opening up to people in public speaking as in private life is the way to establish a true relationship.”

Be authentic, he says, which also is a core principle in effective professional use of social media.

“It’s a great way,” Hale adds, “to get a crowd on your side.”

If you can talk about yourself, in the end, he says, we feel like more of a team.

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