Narrative Networking: A system of networking that is based on developing your personal or professional brand by sharing your story effectively online and off.
The rapid and continued growth of social media will put to the test your ability to be an effective narrative networker. Your story is your brand and reputation. If you don’t have a story, one will be written for you.
Being a narrative networker doesn’t mean you do all the talking. Actually, an effective networker does more listening than talking. Relationships are built on trust. The more listening you do, the more you learn and the more trust you build.
Although listening is a big part of networking, the ability to offer a memorable elevator pitch is an important part of a narrative networker’s success. The pitch is your story, and your story has to be remarkable. (Thank you, Seth Godin.) Your story has to be so remarkable that others will want to share it with friends and associates.
Your remarkable story can be your history, the way you do business, and the great benefits it will have on your prospects. The most effective stories tend to be simple and focus on the benefits to others. Unfortunately most professionals rely on the overly used stories of “we have the lowest prices” or “we have great service.”
I have a number of stories about my photography. Here’s one that is highly effective: “I am a high-value, low-risk photographer.” This means that when a client hires me, a quality photographer, there is little risk because I only charge for the images the client likes and selects.
I have other stories. I talk about my style of photography. I talk about what I specialize in: photographing people, food and interiors.
Technology has advanced, but people are still the same. Givers gain is the rule. Everyone’s favorite subject — themselves — is still the same. Understanding this rule gives the narrative networker the ammunition necessary to approach people in the quest to share their story and develop a community.
Community members help build a business or brand by spreading the stories and finding referrals. Referrals are the holy grail of any professional business. Narrative networking is not a social media idea, but it is gaining strength with the new media tools being developed and adopted on a daily basis.
Look deep. What separates you from your competition? What story can you offer that others will value and want to share with people they like and trust? Once you figure this out, you can be an effective narrative networker.