Your clients and prospects want to know about you. They’re reading your website and social media before hiring you. They’re making small talk with you during property tours.

Sharing certain aspects of your life outside work adds value to your business, but careless or unprofessional sharing can hinder it. How do you strike that balance? Consider these questions before you speak or type.

Are my comments work appropriate? What you wear to the beach is different than what you wear to a high-powered meeting. That story, activity, or opinion from your personal life may not be appropriate in a business setting. Would sharing this make people not want to work with you?

Is it topical? You may have the funniest 10-minute story about your great aunt’s vacation, but your clients don’t need to hear it. Even if you are a gifted storyteller, short, sweet, and relevant is best for most situations.

Who is my audience? You might want to steer clear of hot-button topics like politics and religion. Ask yourself if your audience may be offended by what you share. Even if you are talking with someone you believe shares your views, these topics still present unique risks. Would you share this information with any client? If not, reconsider.

What message does it send? Your stories tell your audience who you are. People will draw one conclusion if you tell a story about saving a kitten that fell into a sewer. Conversely, a story about playing a practical joke on your spouse may come off as insensitive rather than funny.

Is it appealing? You are trying to connect with people. Is what you are about to share enjoyable to hear or see? Does it inform or entertain them? Will it make them like you more?

Does it need to be said at all? Sometimes less is more. Your clients don’t need an overly detailed explanation of why you were 15 minutes late. A brief apology will suffice. A long list of excuses belabors the point and can be off-putting.