Using a Compelling Story in Connecting with People Who Will Hire … YOU!
“Story is the language of experience, whether it’s ours, someone else’s, or that of fictional characters. Other people’s stories are as important as the stories we tell ourselves. Because if all we ever had to go on was our own experience, we wouldn’t make it…” ~ Lisa Cron
Truth be told, not everyone learns all they need to know in Kindergarten. In fact, people learn over the entire course of their lives, and one of the primary vehicles for learning is stories. Indeed, in fairness to Robert Fulghum, it is precisely the stories he tells which teach the principles he covers in All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. There is a reason for this. As Lisa Cron documents, in Wired for Story, there is solid brain science behind storytelling. Specifically,
“Neuroscientists believe the reason our already overloaded brain devotes so much precious time and space to allowing us to get lost in a story is that without stories, we’d be toast. Stories allow us to simulate intense experiences without actually having to live through them. “[In fact,]… our expectations [of a story] have everything to do with the story’s ability to provide information on how we might safely navigate this earthly plane.”
Benefiting from a good story is, on some level, like hiring a coach or consultant. Someone who has the kind of information we need to survive and improve so we can live successfully. And while we might not stop to think about it, we are more predisposed to hire consultants whose stories resonate with us.
Increasingly, it’s the same for the people who you want to hire you!
Today, in our social media driven world, people seek to connect, partner, and do business with people who “get it” and therefore “get them.” And the way they determine this is via the stories others convey. This makes personal brand storytelling more important than ever. And to tell your brand story in a way that is authentic and will resonate with your audiences requires self-knowledge. As creative writing instructor Robert McKee points out, “Self Knowledge is key – life plus deep reflection on our reactions to life.”
Now, more than ever, your story is your brand. So, it’s critical to go deeper than a conveying a one-sentence personal brand statement arrived at from the examination of the 360 feedback and introspective exercises. While these are certainly important, it is critical to examine the life events that shaped your brand DNA. While it’s important to convey the vision, purpose, values, passions, beliefs, and skill sets that you bring to creating value, you also need to share the specifics of your accomplishments, and your failures, come backs, and other key life turning points.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, it’s a mistake to hide your stumbles in life. In fact, your mistakes and what you draw from them are your story. As Lisa Cron defines it,
“A story is how what happens affects someone who is trying to achieve what turns out to be a difficult goal, and how he or she changes as a result.“
In other words, taken as a whole, your failures as well as your achievements offer your audience the language of experience that connects to their expectations and draws them to you to learn more. And the more your story resonates, the more likely it is to establish an emotional connection with your idea audience and fuel their desire to work with … you!