How to NOT Be Boring While You’re Networking

Think about the last networking meeting you went to where people had a chance to introduce themselves:
Were they interesting?
Did they grab your attention?
Were they engaging?

Or did you find yourself thinking:
Do I really have to carry on this conversation?

We’ve all been in boring conversations, which makes most of us decide that WE want to avoid being boring when talking with others. We are very conscious that we want people to be engaged in conversations with us.
So how do we do that?

Be Ready to Tell a Great Story

Charlie Lawson, author of “The Unnatural Networker: How Anyone Can Succeed At Networking,” and I often discuss the importance of telling a great story.

If you want to know that people are really listening when you talk about what you do — supply them with an engaging story. Charlie gave me an example regarding a BNI® member named Dena.

Dena ran a Yorkshire, England-based listing agency specializing in short-term accommodations. One day she got a call on a cold, rainy February afternoon. Dena could tell that the lady on the line, who we’ll call “Ann”, was quite upset from all the commotion of kids running around in the background. Ann had been kicked out of a house by her partner, who’d left her with the kids and she was calling to see if there was anything Dena could do to help.

“I know this doesn’t usually happen on short notice,” admitted Ann, “but I need somewhere to stay tonight.”

Dena managed to source her a property and told the harried mom that they’d work out the details as soon as possible the following day. Then, right as Dena was about to hang up the phone, she asked: “Where are you, now?”

Ann relayed that she was currently standing on a roadside, with kids in tow, along with a couple of suitcases and no ride. So Dena got in her car, picked the crew up and took them to their temporary residence where they managed to sort everything out.

After telling this tale, Charlie asked me if I would ever refer business to Dena. I answered as anyone would – with an effusive yes!

Reveal Something They’ll Remember

Dena realized that they were in a grave situation, and knew that she could make a difference for Ann and her family.

In networking conversations, a typical listing agent might say, “I offer short-term and last-minute solutions. I’ve got a great range of services. I can offer inventory services.” That doesn’t sell you on the services of the listing agent.

What better sells these services is the fact that we know we’d be comfortable referring said agent — and that is where storytelling happens. It becomes both memorable and the sort of thing we’d bring back up in subsequent conversations. The next time someone asks me about listing agents, who do you think I’m going to remember?

Even though we may not have been in that situation ourselves, the story helps us understand how the person involved felt. Ann actually did get her family into a permanent flat, but what resonates most is how Dena served her potential client in a time of need.

Make Yourself Memorable

Storytelling is more interesting, memorable, and referable than simple facts about the products and services that you offer. Keep in mind why we go to networking events – to build our businesses through referrals.

We’ve got to give our networking partners the tools to find those referrals for us and I think effective anecdotes are a great way to do it. As Charlie likes to say, compelling stories “won’t bore people to tears.”

Have you used stories to help your networking partners find referrals for your business? Tell me about it in the comment section.




Related blogs and podcasts:

Storytelling In Business

I am a big believer in storytelling in business and using stories to make a point…


Episode 588: Want Referrals? Don’t Bore Me To Tears

Charlie Lawson, “unnatural networker”…


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