Storytelling In Businessstring(24) "Storytelling In Business"

I am a big believer in storytelling in business and using stories to make a point. If you’ve seen one of my presentations or trainings, you’ve seen me tell a story – you’ve experienced a story with me. Storytelling is about tapping into a passion about some topic. It is about taking the listener to a place that is visceral, visual, concrete, emotional and possibly unexpected.

For many years, I have used the formula for a good story that I learned from Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion.

  1. A story is a fact
  2. Wrapped in emotion
  3. That compels us to take action
  4. That transforms us in some way

The key to this formula is that a good story compels people to take action, and that action transforms or helps them in some way. I always try to re-live a story, not just re-tell a story. An important aspect of storytelling is to make it sound fresh and alive. Re-living the story gives you that same excitement as when you first experienced it or heard it. It is the kind of passion that you need to apply to your business.

The Power of Storytelling While Networking

The power of storytelling in a networking situation is that it captures people’s attention and provides a way to connect with them on a more personal level.

A trait that great networkers develop is to have a story that is theirs and that is personal, coming from positive or negative background – it doesn’t matter. An effective story creates a link from your experience to what you’re doing in your business now. This helps people understand the connection between where you come from, to what you do, and why you do it.

Successful networkers also have a specific ask. When the business relationship has been established and you are at the point where you can ask for a referral, or they ask how they can help you, be prepared. Have clarity about exactly what you want and know how to concisely share your goal or idea with your networking partners.

Storytelling Can Be Inspiring

Dr. Mark Goulston has said that “a story is a portable storage unit for one’s dreams, fears, hopes, humor and sorrows that people visit–or visits people–from time to time for them to stay in contact with their humanity.”

When you include stories while training your teams or employees, you may find increased engagement and attentiveness. Storytelling can help them embrace the new ideas you are sharing or better retain the information you’re giving. The story you tell may inspire someone to set a bigger goal or move beyond their comfort zone to achieve more in their professional life. Sharing a story, a personal part of yourself, can make a deeper and more personal connection to those you work with, including your customers and clients. Effective storytelling is an important part of one’s emotional intelligence.

Some years ago, I was at a storytelling event hosted by the Academy Award-winning movie producer, Peter Guber, who said that “what if” is more powerful than “how to” in a story. Very true, indeed. Getting people to think of the possible rather than simply look at the present can truly help make a great story. And a great story can make a great impact in business.

Have you experienced a great story in your work or professional life?
Do you use storytelling in your business?
I would love for you to share in the comment section below.

Preparation & Follow Up–the Two Keys to Referral Successstring(67) "Preparation & Follow Up–the Two Keys to Referral Success"

In this brief video, filmed at the 2012 BNI® International Directors’ Conference in early November, I talk with Terry Hamill, a respected business networking expert based in Europe.  Terry explains two important keys for maximum effectiveness and success in business referral generation–preparation and follow up.

Terry advises that the true gold is in the follow up and that the most successful networkers use the strongest follow-up methods; he also offers a few important tips for preparation prior to attending networking meetings and events.

Do you have a favorite follow-up method or a highly effective preparation tactic that you use prior to attending networking functions?  If so, we’d love to hear about it!  What works well for you could really help other people in their journey to networking success so, by all means, please feel free to share your favored methods and tactics in the comment forum below. Thanks!

How to Make Networking Comfortablestring(34) "How to Make Networking Comfortable"

Very few people argue with the value of networking, so why do people resist doing it? Aside from all the excuses–I don’t have time, I’m not a good networker, I don’t like to network–what’s the REAL reason people resist networking?  I was reading a book the other day called “Manifesting for Non-Gurus,” which was written by my friend Robert MacPhee (pictured at right) whom I’m in the Transformational Leadership Council with, and the book explains a concept which I think gets right to the core of this question–Comfort Zones.

The real reason most people do not network is because it makes them uncomfortable.

We’ve all heard about the concept of Comfort Zones before.  However, Robert explains it in a very unique way. He talks about how our resistance to doing something new often shows up as wanting to continue to do what is comfortable–even if it is not working well for usIn outlining his “Manifesting for Non-Gurus” approach, Robert explains that a comfort zone exists when our beliefs about who we are match the results we are getting. Think about it . . . if you consider yourself to be a great networker, do you show up at a networking meeting or event and present yourself differently than someone who thinks of himself as a poor networker?  Who is more comfortable?

Are you a great networker?

Hopefully you can answer this question with a highly-confident YES.  Unfortunately, most businesspeople would probably answer with a resounding NO.  Their image of themselves is of not being a great networker so, to remain comfortable, they will avoid networking, despite the fact that they know networking is valuable. Crazy, right?  Yet, we all know people who do this.

Fortunately, Robert explains that there is a very simple solution for anyone stuck in this kind of comfort zone.  It starts with a simple decision that part of who you are is a great networker. To declare that you love meeting new people, sharing what you do, and helping them in any way you can.  Start thinking about networking events as the valuable, exciting opportunities they are, instead of as dreaded situations that will pull you from your comfort zone.  This is the way successful networkers see themselves and perceive networking functions and that is a huge part of why they are successful networkers.

So, what about that voice in your head saying, “What about the evidence that seems to support the fact that I am not such a great networker?”  Well, according to Robert, that’s just your comfort zone crying out to reel you back in because the “I am a great networker” statement doesn’t match your current results.  If a “great networker” is who you want to be, the next step is to continue to declare that you are a great networker and “act as if” until the results you want start to show up!  This is the same thing you have done your whole life with any new skill you successfully learned.

Robert teaches a simple five step approach to making these kinds of changes more quickly and easily, getting out of our current comfort zones, trying new things and creating the lasting results we want.  I highly recommend his work.  Maybe we can get him to write “Networking for Non-Gurus” next . . . 😉

For more information about Robert and his work, please visit www.ManifestingMonth.com.