How Storytelling Increases Referrals (and Stops the “You-ing”) by Cynthia Greenawalt

How Storytelling Increases Referrals (and Stops the “You-ing”)

{3:04 minutes to read}  Storytelling is one of the most powerful networking tools. Especially if networking for you is about developing referrals from referral partners (vs. networking to find prospects at an event). If you find yourself in front of a group and have an opportunity to explain what you do, rather than “you’ing” everyone, tell a detailed story about a particular client. Paint the picture of who he or she is, what was happening before you came along, and how you solved the problem.

Because you are telling the story of an actual client, those you’re addressing won’t feel like you’re pitching them. You’re not coming at them with the 2nd person singular pronoun of you. Instead, you’re using a 3rd person pronoun by saying, “Hi I’m ____. My company offers commercial insurance to business owners. Here’s an example of what we did for Bob, who owns a dry cleaning business in 3 locations in Manhattan. We sat down with him, looked at his different commercial insurance needs, and were able to save him $60,000 a year on his policy…”

With this approach, the people in the room aren’t feeling prospected. They lower their guard because you’re painting an educational picture (vs. treating them as the target), and they’re able to listen to your story with an open mind, defenses down. (Yes, the art of masterful pronoun use helps people drop their defenses!) If the “listener” is a connector, who likes to bring value to others, then your story shows them how they can be a hero to their clients — by connecting you to the people they know who sound like the “star character” in your story.

Imagine if someone listening to your self-introduction has a client with multiple business locations. When they hear that you were able to save Bob thousands of dollars insuring his 3 locations, it may spark an interest in them to refer you to their client. Why wouldn’t they want to help their best client to save money?

Even better, your story becomes the very “script” they use when explaining to their client why you’re someone worth talking to.

The tool of Storytelling forces us to shift to 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural pronouns (“he, she, it, they”) and to steer away from “you-ing” people. This invites your audience to step into a story about someone else you have done wonders for and they’ll either want to connect their clients to you, or they’ll recognize that they themselves sound like the character in your story and volunteer themselves to you as a candidate for your services.

If your networking group isn’t yielding the kind of “return” you think it should, then very likely it’s a pronoun issue!

NOTE: One of the best ways to stop prospecting the room, when you stand up to deliver your self-introduction, is to imagine that everyone in your networking group has a brother-in-law who does what you do. More about this surprisingly effective tool called the Brother-in-Law FactorTM here. If you really can imagine this, then you will feel compelled to drop the “you-ing” and naturally illustrate your expertise — and your value — through a story!

Cynthia Greenawalt

Cynthia Greenawalt

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