I recently attended a networking meeting with small business owners from throughout New Hampshire. The idea of the meeting was to connect with different types of businesses, and to exchange contact information with hopes of being able to cross refer each other to people we know looking for each other’s products and services.The thing about networking is that it requires the ability to connect with people on a personal level. And to do that typically requires a combination of confidence, passion and the ability to tell a really good story. If you are lacking in confidence, then you may seem inauthentic, or otherwise less intelligent than you actually are. If you lack passion for what you do, it will be obvious in how you conduct business, and the quality of the products and/or services you provide. But even if you are confident and passionate about what you do – it will be hard to prove any of that without a compelling story.
The Power of a Great Story
One business professional at the meeting was scheduled to do a 10 minute presentation about his business, which happened to be a local brewery. Do you know how much of the presentation was actually about beer and the brewery he works for? Maybe 5%. And it all came at the end of the presentation. The other 95% was about the business professional himself. He discussed his background, family, life experiences, interests, values, goals, dreams, hobbies, skills, and thoughts on politics. And when he mentioned the brewery, it was more of a “Oh by the way, I work at a brewery. You should check it out.” One member of the audience said after his presentation, “I don’t even drink beer, but after hearing your presentation, I kind of want to.”
Whether or not this non beer drinking woman will actually show up at the brewery and sip on some quality stout is to be determined. But you can be sure that she’ll be telling all of her beer-drinking friends to check out the brewery and say hello to the guy who gave a really inspiring presentation last week. That’s the power of storytelling in action.
Do You Have a Good ‘Why?’
Some people are naturally good at explaining what they do, why they do it, and how great they are at it, without actually having to say, “I do this, because of this, and I’m really good at what I do.” And, let’s be real – no one really wants to hear such a boring and straightforward answer, such as, “I’m a dentist. I do it because I really like teeth. I love being a dentist, and I’m a really great one.” In fact, I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know if I would trust this particular dentist to put metal things inside my mouth.
We’d rather hear someone say, “I’m a doctor. I enjoy solving problems and helping people come up with solutions to their ailments. Some days are more difficult than others, but I get up every day knowing I have the ability to make a difference – no matter how big or small – in people’s lives. I had a patient once…” Don’t you want to hear the story of how they helped that patient? I sure do.
How Do You Share Your Why?
Unfortunately, even if you do have a really good ‘why’ you started your business or career, not everyone is a natural storyteller. Some of us are better listeners than speakers. And others of us are better doers than talkers or writers. There are probably a ton of businesses out there with remarkable stories to tell, but that keep them hidden because they either don’t know how to share them, or don’t realize how powerful storytelling can be.
A story doesn’t have to be spoken aloud, nor does it have to be written down word for word. It merely has to exist, and to shine through over the course of various types of communication with your target audience and existing customers. If fact, your story shouldn’t be told in just one way, but rather in as many ways as possible, and in the ways which make the most sense based on your brand personality.
Here are few ways you can tell the personal story of your brand or business:
1. Create Personas and Archetypes
People relate better to humans than to vague and intangible ideas. If you have a person that represents your brand and has an inspiring story, whether real or fictional, you may find that your audience is more interested in what your business is saying, doing or making.
2. True Story
Do you or another founding member of your business have a compelling story about what inspired you to start your business? Or maybe you have a story that developed since your business began. Either way, an honest story, as simple as it may be, can help attract the attention of your intended audience.
3. Describe a Typical Day
What do you do on a typical day? What do your employees do? Is a day in the life of you or your employees something that others might find interesting or otherwise inspiring? Share it with your audience, if for no other reason than to generate a conversation around what your business is doing on a daily basis.
4. Let Others Tell Part of the Story
If you don’t like talking about yourself, let others tell some of the story. Whether it’s your employees, customers, social media followers, or blog subscribers, they can all help you tell the story of your business.
Encourage testimonials, reviews, comments on social media, blog comments, and more, so others can see the influence you have on the community. Just be sure to monitor the conversation, so it doesn’t get out of hand.
These are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning. The list of ways to tell your personal story could go on forever.
What’s Your Story?
Do you have a personal brand story to tell, but aren’t sure exactly how to do it? Do you have a story that you think you’ve told well? Tell us about it in the comments.
Or, if you think you need help crafting or communicating your story, Savoir Faire can help.