I was sitting at a celebratory dinner a while back, and the host started telling a story.
His story. How he had become the professional he was, and why he was moving in the direction he was going.
He could have spewed facts, or statistics, or bullet points. But no-one would have remembered them. Those are cold things.
Stories are personal. Human. Relatable.
Facts inform. Stories warm.
Do you tell your evolution story as you explain your business to others? How you got to your current place, and what shaped you (and continues to shape you)?
No matter what you offer, even if a thousand other professionals offer something similar, you have something that’s quite unique – your story. And that very special, personal story is a big part of the reason why a client will buy into you.
This is true of an individual, but also true of a company. Each company has its evolution story.
I grew up using a more formal writing style (blogging and social media has helped soften this). I also tended to default to facts, figures, and logic when it came to selling – keep the personal in the background, and convince people at the brain level. But this objective, sterile approach doesn’t work. It feels manipulative to all involved. This New England boy has to re-learn every day to open his heart and relate to people with warmth – not just facts.
Need to flesh out your story? Here’s an exercise for you. Take your resume or LinkedIn profile (if you’re an individual; as a business, consider your history) and look at it as a timeline. With each role that you’ve had, write down one or two things that revealed some special strength of yours, and one thing that was a mis-match (e.g., “having to do this task every day revealed to me that I operate at big vision level, not in the weeds of the details…”). Trace out how your work history has been revelatory of who you are and what you do best. focus in particular on the successes, and what made those events to be professional highlights.
You’ll find that embedded in your timeline is an evolution story – the story of you. And as you interact with current clients, partners, and prospects, your story can help you become much more convincing. People don’t just buy “stuff,” they buy YOU – and we’re hard-wired to pay attention to stories.
We don’t go to the movies to hear facts. We hunger for story.
Bullet points explain. Statistics enlighten. But your professional story will be remembered long after the facts are forgotten.