Networking isn't easy. It can be awkward and exhausting – and you might walk away feeling like you didn't represent yourself or your business the best you could. But never fear! There's a tool you can use to make your next networking experience a success: storytelling.
Storytelling is a powerful thing. It's leveraged in journalism, marketing, comedy, and so much more. We all love a good story, so why not use it to make a deeper connection with someone and potentially start a new business relationship? Telling a story can help you stand out from the rest and be remembered. Telling a story also helps you stand out in someone's mind and helps them relate to you as they can picture themselves in a similar situation.
But what kinds of stories do you tell? Here are a few questions to get your memory and ideas going:
- What were some of your "firsts?" For example, when did you first know you wanted to go into your line of business or be a company leader? Were you inspired by a professor, mentor, or national figure? You could also think about firsts for your company: Your first sale, client, customer, employee, etc. Think of any meaningful (or funny) antidotes that would intrigue a new group of people.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? While this can be one of the worst interview questions ever, you could use these attributes to come up with good stories. Think about a time when one of your strengths helped you through something challenging (or, when the strength of your business saved the day). On the flip side, your weaknesses could be good fodder for a more humorous story. Perhaps your obsession with grammar caused you to copy edit someone's love letter in high school, or your compulsive need for order made you spill your coffee all over your phone while tidying your desk during an important conference call. Whatever your strength or weakness is, people will appreciate your honesty and will (hopefully) laugh about your quirks.
- What was a time when someone told you "no?" Being met with the opposition can really test your character and determination. Think about a time when you were met with resistance: Maybe your thesis idea was shot down. Maybe someone wouldn't invest in your company. Whatever the experience, use it to showcase how you overcome obstacles.
Not sure how to tell a good story? Just think about a book you really enjoyed. It probably featured relatable characters, had a compelling story arc, and evoked an emotional reaction. You can bring all of these elements into your short networking stories. Just don't overthink it. Be yourself and let the narrative come naturally.
The next time you step out onto the networking scene, be armed with a few stories that will help you connect with new people – sparking new relationships that can benefit both you and your company.