We all go to networking events. That’s where potential new clients are at. Hopefully you’re going to the right networking events, the ones where the majority of attendees fit the profile of your ideal client. Don’t have a profile of your ideal client? Demographics and psychographics? Then better do something about that? More on that in next Monday’s post.
So you’re at the networking event. Perhaps you’re going around the table or maybe it’s more of a wandering meet and greet. Or maybe it’s speed networking where you move on down the line every six minutes. It doesn’t matter because you’ve only got about 20 seconds to catch somebody’s interest. That’s the initial attention span of the average adult. So you can bore everybody by going on and on about what you do, who you do it for, and the finer points about what you provide. Or you can make it much more engaging by telling a story. Tell the story of a current or past client. What their situation is, what you did to help them and what the outcome is or has been. Situation – action – results. Keep it short. Choose a story that is about your ideal client so that you are attracting more of the same. Keep it anonymous, of course. Here are some reasons why this works.
- We grew up with stories, we like stories with a beginning, middle and end. Didn’t you like it when your parents or teachers told you stories? Don’t positive endings make you feel good?
- We can see ourselves or someone we know in the story. We can identify with the main character. It helps us give referrals because we can picture ourselves or someone else in the same picture.
- Stories create a tension that makes you listen to the end. You hear a problem. You feel for the protagonist. You listen to hear what happens. It involves you emotionally and involves the limbic layer of your brain, a much deeper level.
- People listen to stories, they are engaged and, therefore, the stories are more memorable. Emotional involvement is linked to longer term memory I the limbic layer. People may forget other things, but they probably won’t forget your story. They will probably associate your face with your story and you will be more memorable then as well.
- Stories can better communicate concepts. Some things are difficult to explain and if the other person has no relevant experience, then they don’t get it at all. A story can make the complex more succinct and understood in a flash. An example yields clarity.
- Stories are easier for you to remember and will come out of your mouth with more confidence, simplicity and fewer speech trip-ups. Did you ever memorize an elevator pitch and then have it come out of your mouth in bits and pieces because you were distracted or tired or not as engaged? If you’re telling a story that you’ve lived, it flows easily effortlessly and clearly. You improvise how you express it depending on who you’re telling it to.
- You are more enthusiastic, lively and engaging when you tell a story. Because it comes from your personal experience, you focus on your listener rather than the content. Your passion shows through. People are more attracted to you.
- You probably have several good client stories. You can select the one you tell depending on who the listener is or what kind of networking event you’re at. If you’re focusing on professional services and you’re at a meeting of CPA’s, then by all means tell a CPA story. If you’re talking to someone older, tell a story including an older person. If someone tells you what their problem is, then tell her a story about how you helped someone with the same problem. You can be flexible and focused on the other person, rather than being focused solely upon yourself.
Do you have a story inventory? I encourage you to keep a log and even write out your stories. It helps to stimulate your thinking about the value of the story, the elements you want to include, the structure of:
Then when you’re out networking or need to tell a prospect, your stories will be told succinctly and coherently. It helps you find appropriate stories for different situations. Over time the story inventory reminds you of stories you may have forgotten. Plus you can share the inventory with other people you work with. Double whammy when you have more and a greater variety of stories to tell.
These stories are like mini- case studies. Why not write each one up, put it on your web site, put it in information you prepare for prospects?
If you go to the home page of my website, you’ll see 3 videos of my client stories, a CPA firm, the owner of a video production company and a mid level manager of a financial services firm. How about you? What’s your favorite client story? Please tell us a story using the situation, action, results structure. This is a chance to let those following this blog know something about you. Do you use stories? Have they helped you land new clients?