The Story of My Success

By Adriana Puckett

“Networking is a complete waste of effort! I never generate new leads. I just waste valuable selling time.” If this is what you have been telling yourself about networking, then your attitude may be costing you valuable business opportunities, says Anne Baber, author of Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How (AMACOM, 2001). Seemingly meaningless conversation provides the perfect opportunity for you to share a success story – and possibly net some new business. But how do you share stories in such a way as to further your goals, keep your listener engaged and refrain from sounding self-serving?

According to Baber, the key to telling a good success story is to strategize. “You can tell stories all day long about how you have served a client or about your business, but your stories are useless to you unless the point of the stories ties in to something that you are trying to achieve,” says Baber.

For example, says Baber, say that you are a real estate agent and you are attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Your overall goal is to increase sales and you want to show people that you really work with your clients and you go the extra mile to find them the perfect house. So, when someone asks, “What do you do?” respond with a good one-liner, “I find people the perfect house.” Then you can expand: “Last week I had a client who was in a wheelchair and wanted a house with access to a patio. I found a perfect match for what this client wanted, with beautiful French doors opening up to a gardened patio.”

There are two key elements in the above example. First, brevity. Baber says people sound self-serving when they go on for too long. Keep it between one and three sentences. Second, “include concrete, sensory detail,” says Baber. Mentioning the French doors helps the listener visualize what you are talking about. And, eliminate any jargon of your profession.

The next step is to ask for a referral. In the example above, you could say, “Do you know someone who is looking for the perfect house?” Baber says that success stories work equally well in social situations, but you may not want to ask for the referral. In this case, “ask for the person’s card to continue the conversation at a later time,” says Baber.

Anne Baber can be contacted at 1-800-352-2939 or by visiting www.contactscount.com.

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