One of the best ways to attract the right clients to your business is to share your stories. Putting yourself out there and letting people know who you are and what makes you tick will help them to feel like they have a connection with you. If you work in a well-defined market this can help you to narrow down your prospects to people who actually have something in common with you, and who you will want to work with.
That being said, you don’t just want to blurt out your life story to anyone who will listen. You want to tell your story in such a way that people can get a real sense of who you are, what you do, and most importantly, what you can do for them. In this case sharing your story is definitely NOT about you.
The Importance of Stories
Stories have been used since time immemorial to teach, share cultural values, and give life meaning. In many ancient cultures the story teller was the most important person in the community; a tradition that carries over in some cultures even today.
When used in your business, your story can be used to share information such as
- Who you are
- What you do
- Why you do it
- How you do it
- What your long-term plans are
- And, how all of that combines to meet your prospective client’s needs.
Sharing your personal story is also important because it lets your prospective clients know that you “walk your talk” and are not afraid to draw on your own life experiences to make sure their needs are met. They also want to know that you are a real person, and not just someone who hides behind a persona that tells them what they want to hear.
The Art of Telling Your Story
There is a definite art to sharing your story in such a way that you are able to connect with your prospects and clients on a deeper level. As I mentioned earlier, what you don’t want to do is blurt your story out to just anyone. And you definitely don’t want to let all your skeletons out of the closet. Believe me, that can and will come back to bite you when you least expect it!
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start to share your story:
Keep it real
This is your story, being told your way. Don’t try to change your energy or emotions to try and “fit in”. There’s only one of you, and you’re the only one who can share your life experiences in a way that shows your audience how these experiences – the successes AND the failures — have shaped you into who you are today.
Know why you are sharing
It’s so important to know why you feel the need to share a particular story with a particular audience. Choosing the wrong story can cause more damage to your credibility and authority than not sharing anything at all. So before you even start to write or speak, know the purpose behind the telling.
- Is it to teach?
- Is it to share a vision?
- Are you fundraising for a charity?
- Are you introducing yourself to a prospect?
I can tell you without a doubt that the stories I share with business owners when talking about the importance of sharing your story or of having a blog are vastly different than the stories I would tell a group of dog owners when I’m trying to raise funds for a new shelter or sanctuary.
Different stories serve different audiences with different purposes, and you need to know what that is before you ever pick up a pen.
Have a structure
Stories have structure – you know, like a beginning, middle, and an end – so make sure yours has that too. But there’s more to it that just blurting out the words. As I learned in a recent storytelling workshop, your story has to have a point. And it has to be structured in such a way that you don’t leave your audience floundering and wondering what that point is.
Without a clear structure, you will only frustrate your readers. And we know that frustrated readers leave and don’t come back. And that will not help you in achieving the purpose behind the telling. Use a template that lays out the structure for you, and your storytelling becomes almost as easy as filling in the steps. Even I could do it, and I’ve never really thought of myself as much of a storyteller.
Practice make perfect
The more times you tell your story, the easier it will get. But before you deliver it the first time, make sure you practice enough that you’re not tripping over your words. Whether you are speaking to a live audience, recording for a webinar, or just writing it out as a blog post or part of your About page, practice reading it out loud until the words and emotions are clear in your mind, and you don’t trip over the words.
Finally, always remember…
There is a time and place for everything
The timing and context of the telling is almost as important as the content of your story itself. When you are sharing personal information, it’s important to make sure the tone and context of the story match whatever emotions you want to connect with in your audience. We all have a ton of personal stories we can share, so it’s important that you pick the story that fits best with the audience and the timing.
One last thing…
Never forget that your story is important! YOU are important. You have a story to tell that someone needs to hear, even if you don’t think so at this moment. And you’ll never know who you’ve helped, or whose life you’ve impacted until AFTER you speak up and share your own experiences.