Business Networking With Stories

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By Gail Stolzenburg

Many people are unaware of the expression, “Facts tell and stories sell.”  The truth is that people rarely remember the details about your company, your product, or your service.  You could tell them that that the founder of your company walks on water and they are likely to forget.  What they do remember are the stories.  My friend, Ronald Wilshire, likes to say, “It’s better to attract with your story than chase with your pitch.”

We use words and we think in pictures.  When someone says “elephant”, your mind sees a picture of an elephant rather than visualizing the letters E, L, E, P, H, A, N, and T.   Rather than facts and figures, our stories, if they are good ones, will evoke emotions and pictures.  So, what is a story?  Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, describes a story as a fact wrapped in an emotion.  It compels us to take action and it transforms us in some way.  His most important suggestion is to re-live a story instead of re-tell a story.  The more one can engage in the emotion of the situation, the more impact it will have.

Most of our decisions are made by our subconscious and our subconscious is unable to tell the difference between a story, dream, or reality.  New metaphors have the power to create new reality.  Our subconscious minds make decisions and our conscious minds work on ways to justify those decisions.  The greatest speakers, authors, and coaches are storytellers who communicated their visions in words, stories, and metaphors.

So, when I’m networking, which is most of the time, I use a process I learned from success coach, Pamela Bruner:  Ask questions to find out where the pain/problem is.  Then ask them, “What is it costing you – finances, time, or quality of life?” and “How committed are you in making a change?” Follow it with a story where you’ve solved a similar problem and ask, “Can I help you brainstorm?” Now you have become their partner in solving the problem.

Coauthor of the New York Times bestselling book “The Power of Full Engagement”, Dr. Jim Loehr examines the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves and, most importantly, the way we can change those stories to transform our business and personal lives.  “Your story is your life”, says Loehr.  As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories of success or failure, of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime.  We have stories about our work, our families, our relationships, and our health; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving.  Yet, while our stories can profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them and, in turn, transform our very destinies.

How do you learn to tell stories?  In my case, I contacted a storyteller and attended several classes to learn how.  The reason stories are so powerful is that rather than directly telling someone to do something, your story will create images or pictures that the subconscious mind can use in making a decision.  I learned about things like non-verbal communication and eye contact and delivering with passion and power.  Now, I’ve found I can tell a better story and more people are paying attention. Learning to tell stories will help you engage your audience, build confidence, boost sales, and become a better networker.

Are you ready to start telling your stories?

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Gail Stolzenburg, The Connector, can be contacted by email at [email protected], by phone at 281-493-1955, or visit his website at www.GailStolzenburg.com.

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