When I was teaching 5th and 6th graders in the inner city of Los Angeles, many of my students had full time responsibilities at home. These included cooking, housework, and caring for younger siblings. While I am a firm believer in children helping out around the house, this went far beyond what is usually expected in a family.
I became an advocate for my students, explaining to the adults in their family that they already had a full-time job as a student in my classroom. Soon things would change at home, and my students went on to do extraordinarily well in academics, sports, and citizenship during the year they spent with me. I kept track of many of them as they continued through middle and high school, and their success continued in many cases. By building a relationship with the entire family, and not just the child, I had a far greater impact on the lives of the students I was teaching. I always said that once you had sat in the kitchen, holding a baby on your lap while the family prepared dinner, the relationship with that student and the people they lived with was forever changed.
This is an example of storytelling. It affects everything we do, no matter if it is related to business, family, politics, or other aspects of our lives. We remember the stories we hear, and are more likely to pass them on to others. You must incorporate them into your online business if you want to build trust, credibility, and community within your niche.
The story I share above tells you something about the type of person I am. No matter what you already know about me, this story sheds light on my personal belief system. In less than two hundred words you are able to connect on a deeper level with who I am, what I believe, and how it relates to what you want to learn from me. This may seem judgmental, but it is how we all decide who we will connect with in our business and in our lives.
We all grew up with stories, and storytelling has been a part of the history of mankind. These stories were passed down orally from generation to generation, and finally became written works. We remember great leaders in history by the stories we have heard about them. Our stories make sense of where we came from and where we are going. Stories help children to understand how to make the transition from childhood to the adult world. Trying to connect with people without using storytelling is like trying to paint a picture without color; it just doesn’t communicate all of the details.
What is your story? We all come to the Internet with a rich background of experiences, hopes, and dreams. By sharing these with your prospects and clients, they are able to know you much better and to relate to what you have to share. They can also gain more insight into the ways that your story touches upon the very reason they have come to you in the first place.
I remember a teleseminar I hosted during the beginning of 2007. One of the participants asked me when I had become serious about building my online business. I answered honestly, saying that I got serious when I received a letter from my mortgage company a few months previous to this call. They had noted that I was sending my payment in a little later each month, and even though I had not been late, it appeared as though I might be headed for problems in the near future.
As I shared this with the people on my call I began to choke up a little. People have remembered this story for all of these years, and many still write to me to tell me how it made them feel when I was willing to tell such a personal story. They could relate to what I had said because we were in a recession at that time and people everywhere were feeling the effects. I was not embarrassed by this because I knew I was doing the right thing to focus on building a business that would give me more control over my finances. That letter from the mortgage company motivated me to make a bigger effort than I had ever made before.
Practice telling your stories in person, to the people who already know you. Share something about your life they may not already know. Be vulnerable, without telling anything that would be too personal. Look for the moral or main point in your story, and think about how that will affect those who hear it. Remember that we must tell stories that people will remember and share with others, or we will simply be forgotten quickly.