More Than WE Know

Women Entrepreneurs sharing Information, Inspiration and Support

How to tell a story when networking

Posted by Liz Fuller on August 9, 2007

women-talking.jpgSome feedback I have heard on Part I of my networking series, is that people don’t feel they have any stories to tell. They want some examples to get them started.  So, while I don’t  have space to give you the fully fleshed out stories, I will give you some examples I have heard in my own network.   

         an accountant who was so broke while studying for her CPA exams that she lived in her car for three weeks; luckily she passed and was able to move into a house and use her car for transportation!

         a dance studio owner that started her business after giving birth to her first child – she didn’t want to leave her in daycare, so instead she took her with her to daycare centers where she taught tap for $1 per student; her daughter always had a variety of children and toys to play with and at 2 years old could tap dance to tea for two!

         a marketing specialist who lost her job after 9/11; she then hit the streets in her NY neighborhood, developing marketing materials and putting together a neighborhood business directory, rebuilding a sense of community in a fragile time

         a family doctor in a small Ohio town who had a patient go into labor on the same morning her two children were participating in a music recital 30 minutes from the hospital – and she was the one accompanying them on the piano! She drove to the hospital to check on her patient – then hurried to the recital to play for her daughter, then she raced back to the hospital, delivered a healthy baby and then raced back to the recital, in time to play for her son!  Her children never lost confidence, but her husband sure was relieved to see her show up in time – he didn’t know how to play the piano or deliver a baby!!  

my own experience with a Nor’easter rainstorm that dumped 13 inches of rain on my small New England town in 8 hours.  The town was declared a disaster area and FEMA came out to check claims.  The FEMA adjuster came to my house, took one look, and said – oh my, this is a disaster!  I said – no – the damage is in the basement – this is my living room – I run a business out of my home – it always looks like this!!!  

The stories can be funny, dramatic, or poignant; the point is to make a connection.  In reviewing these tales, one thing that comes to my mind is that they are all centered on a challenge or struggle of some kind.  Stories of hardship are humanizing and promote bonds.  They create empathy.  Stories of hardship overcome are inspiring. And hardship that is treated with humor is engaging.  It’s okay to exaggerate or poke fun at yourself in the stories. In fact, in networking with women, it is actually more acceptable.  Women tend to connect over similarities, and self-deprecating humor, as opposed to one-upmanship and accomplishment as men do.  

So think about things that have happened to you in your business or life that might make entertaining stories; and the next time you are having a truly bad day – cheer yourself up by thinking about what a great story you’ll have for your next networking opportunity!!!  


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