However, attending and getting the most out of a business networking session is another story [pun intended]. This is the perfect opportunity for you to share your success stories. A success story is a short, punchy anecdote. It teaches your conversation partner about your business, what you are interested in and hopefully gives the listener a reason to get to know you better. All that in about 2 to 3 minutes!
This concept was reinforced to me recently when I attended a local Chamber of Commerce event. A fellow networker asked me how my society was going. At the time I was the Chairman for a local entrepreneur society. I went into my spiel of the challenges that we were facing in moving forward. One step forward, two steps backwards. I realized later that I had missed a perfect opportunity to promote the volunteer opportunities available within the society as well as the opportunity to share my vision for the future of the society. I have invested a lot of time and energy in moving the society forward and I should be prepared to share the story with whoever is willing to hear it.
It is often said that misery loves company. Does your present conversational companion really want to share your misery? I have met far too many people over the years that their default mode is what I call “poor pitiful me.” I recognize it readily having used it myself in my early years. Many people find it easier to share with others how awful life is treating them rather than sharing success stories. The logical conclusion would be that if you were coming from a position of self-pity then you are unlikely to have a collection of success stories.
Many of our mothers have taught us not to talk about ourselves. “Nobody likes braggers!” Walt Whitman is quoted as saying “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” While not grammatically correct, it is the essence of sharing your story.
Each of us has multiple personas based on the different roles that we have in life. Some describe it “as wearing many hats.” We may be at a business networking session to market our business but we still have our different personas with us at all times and we should be prepared to share a success story related to any of those personas if the opportunity arises.
As in many endeavours, the key to success is advance preparation. Take stock of what is new and exciting in your life that others would appreciate hearing about. Share your enthusiasm!
So how does one create a good story? You would think that the answer would be to start at the beginning but you would be wrong. I would suggest that start creating your story by developing the ending first.
What do you hope to achieve by sharing a story? Are you hoping that someone will follow you in your cause? Will you be educating somebody on a topic or issue that is of importance to you or is your intention merely to entertain? The most important part to remember with developing your conclusion to your story is “What do you want the listener to take away from your story?”
With your “take away” clearly in your mind you can now carry on to developing your opening for your story. This is the part where you want to grab your listener’s attention so that they are eager to listen to the rest of the story.
Using fishing with a rod as an analogy, your story’s opening is the bait that you are using to attract the fish to bite. The content of your story being the moving the rod up and down praying for a bite. Setting the hook and landing the fish being the conclusion of your story.
I left out the part about drinking a lot of beer as I recall from my long ago days of fishing. Your story’s opening should be short and to the point, yet be teasing enough for the listener to want to hear more.
A: “So what’s new?”
B: “Not much, same ole, same ole. How about you?”
A: “The same. Business sucks. Can’t make a decent living in this economy.”
B: “We’ll catch you later on the flip side.”
A: “Okay, see ya.”
Does this sound familiar? “A” set up the discussion with “So what’s new?” “B” missed the opportunity to share a story about what is new and exciting in their life. Neither gained anything from this interaction.
You are at a business networking event and you are asked the very same question “So what’s new?” Now what do you do? It’s story time! If you have had previous conversations with this individual on a particular subject I would suggest updating them on anything new with the same subject.
If you haven’t had previous conversation with your fellow networker, the field is wide open. You can talk about what’s new and exciting about your business. Often there is an awkward period of time just after two networkers have introduced themselves to each other and delivered their elevator pitches. If they haven’t found common areas of interest there can be a lull while each rapidly thinks of where to take the conversation. Instead of waiting for the “What’s new” question, you could interject into the conversation and take it in a different direction. Yours!
So what’s new? Go ahead … ask me!
“I’ve been working as a registered nurse for over 35 years and having worked with thousands of people over the years I thought I had seen everything. The other day I …”
“As a master organizer I help organizations create events that raise attention for their cause as well as much needed funds. One of my clients was pleasantly surprised when I …”
“Our entrepreneurs society helps create entrepreneurial leaders. We have a young woman working with us that has done some amazing things for us …”
“One of the things in life that I am passionate about is in honing my communication and leadership skills. I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for almost 20 years and continue to learn something new. The other day I learned …”
“I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately. One project is a series of articles related to business networking entitled “Is Your Net Working.” My latest one is about …”
So … what’s your story?