Stories Create Connection
TELL ME A STORY
One of the favourite questions at YTM networking events is "Tell me a story about a client you have helped so I can understand your business better".
Have you heard stories that really resonate with you? Stories that offer solutions, stories that bring you joy. Stories that illustrate moments that you can clearly relate to your life and that impact on others?
Stories have been shared for over 20,000 years. They evoke a neurological response. They create connection and empathy. They are a strategic business tool.
The day I retired from full time teaching, the School Council President shared a story that has had significant impact on my life and my approach to my business.
It was the final day of my full time teaching career. A morning tea was arranged bringing together my teaching colleagues, the office staff and School Council members to say their farewells and wish me well. It was a lovely gesture and the table was laden with indulgent cakes, biscuits and treats.
The School Council President was charged with the duty to share parting words; thank me for my efforts and wish me well. Aside from a large boxed gift on the table, he held in his hand a starfish. I still have that starfish to this day and will always treasure it!
Perhaps you have heard the story he shared? It is such a beautiful story. May be one day you can also pass the story on? The story has given my life direction. It has allowed me to focus and see purpose in my contribution to others and my business. It has guided my thinking and I would like to share it with you.
“Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977) I was so touched by the analogy.
I was touched, but also proud. I knew I had put my heart and soul into supporting my students.
A few years later, I told the same story at my daughter’s 21st. She had been working for some years at the REACH Foundation and her interaction with the young people made an indelible mark. That night, I gave her a stirling silver starfish on a chain and just like me, she recognised the significant part she had played.
Whilst I no longer teach children, I still educate others. I teach business owners and professionals, how to build a network , and how to have meaningful conversations that generate the knowledge, confidence and business they need. The starfish story continues to remind me of my purpose. To help even one person ... and ideally to help many.
YTM MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Through the networking events and the safe community that I have created, I add value, support, and make a difference to the lives and direction of business owners and professionals, who more often than not find networking uncomfortable. When I know I have made that difference, and that networking is no longer as "terrifying", than I am pleased.
Since starting YTM over 4 years ago, I have seen business owners and professionals come through the door to an event looking uncomfortable and ill at ease. They leave, more confident, and can talk about their business, have made some worthwhile connections and gained insight and knowledge that will help propel their business forward.
Late last year, I ran an event in Kew. I remember one participant well. We had met online. He had never attended YTM before and was a releuctant networker. After our conversation, I managed to encourage him to step out of his comfort zone and come along. Through my career portfolio, I knew I could make a difference. I had helped children and adults gain confidence and feel more at ease, and I knew I could help here, too.
The event arrived. Our "newbie" climbed the stairs apprehensively, and was warmly welcomed by my husband, Leigh, who shook his hand, and introduced him to others who were stategically matched to his needs. I was pleased to see how Our "newbie" thrust himself into the conversations. He shared his business purpose and that he was in startup phase and that networking did not come easily to him. Encouraged by the warm welcome and the fun and effective structure, he settled in to the evening’s conversation. We benefited from learning from his life experience and knowledge, foreign to our everyday existence. He explained how he helped others and his plans for his business. We had some good connections to pass onto him, too. Our eyes were opened to life situations beyond our experience .
Some days later, I received a hand written thank you note. No one else had ever bothered to do that and only last week I received a linkedin message that read “Since you introduced me to networking Kerryn Powell a whole new world has opened up. I am starting to plan some of my own training seminars as a result.” I was touched. I had created a win win win situation. I had made a difference to another human being, who like me was striving to help others. I too gained from this connection as I contributed to someone else's success.
The ability to create a great story and connect with your client is the topic of our next YTM Learn Grow Achieve event in Brighton. You can read more here and we look forward to helping you connect with your clients, too. So, now I ask you "Tell me a story in the comments below, about a client you have helped so I can understand your business better".