Friday, February 15, 2008

What's Your Story?

What's Your Story?
Business networking is sometimes a difficult task. Or rather, the process of continually networking can be difficult. The reason? Our “bag of tricks” isn’t big enough. We hand our business card to someone, or send an email and we wait—and most of the time that is where the networking ends.

How unfortunate!

--and what a waste of time. It is important to remember that networking is a job. It is a fun and rewarding job too, if you do it well, but it is still work. You have to continue to perfect and add to your “bag of tricks” to keep those contacts close, and your circle growing.

One of the best ways to keep networking going is to have a story to tell. Toss that discomfort away, and sit down and think about who you are in business and why. Did you go to college for what you are doing now, or is it something that you fell into? Did you start your now successful business on $500 and a loan from your uncle? Did you get fed up with your job and just quit, without any idea of what you would do next? Think about what makes your story different, and why it is compelling enough for someone to work with you.

This should be a 3-5 minute synopsis (not an entire life story), and it should steer away from too much personal information. Keep your story light and funny, and practice! Write it down, making sure to include the important points and work to improve that story as you get people’s reactions. The delivery is almost as important as the content.

When you are told: “so tell us a little about yourself…” you will have a great story with which to impress people. Below is a quick outline to get your story started:

Give a timeline: “Six years ago I was working a desk job at the DMV…”
Share something funny: “I had told the 50th person in a row that they needed form 82A when it dawned on me…”
Tell about the turning point: “One day I woke up and finally decided to follow my passion…”
Tell what you have accomplished: Since starting the ranch, we have had 1200 kids come to camp…”
Tell why it is so important: “We have been able to give inner-city children a chance to experience life after cancer treatments—it makes me feel like I am really making a difference.”

Sharing your story will make you more personable and give you something to say during those times when you need to make a connection with a new contact. Give them something positive to remember about you, get your story ready today!

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