Trading stories: How to make your 1-2-1 meetings more effective

by Richard White on March 30, 2012 · 0 comments

1-2-1 meetings are an important element of business networking. They help build relationships, develop trust, and identify areas of potentially working together in one way or another. One of the most effective ways I have discovered for achieving this is by sharing stories with each other. I am not talking about telling fairy stories. Real life is much more interesting!

The great thing is that we naturally do this when we are with friends and sharing stories helps to speed up the relationship.. It is just as important for you to get the other person to share their story as it is for you to tell your own

The following are 5 different categories of story.  To make it more real I have included the kind of questions that I get asked (or ask) to cue up a story. I find it pays to be clear of your own stories in response and to be sure they are communicating the right message.

Background Story

“How did you get started in business?”;  or

“What were you doing before you became a sales trainer and consultant?”

When doing a first 1-2-1, I always start by asking the other person about their background. It’s a great icebreaker and you get to learn so much more about the person when you understand their journey.

Company story

“So what’s the story behind The”;  or

“How did you come up with the name?”

This is similar to a background story but you are asking about the background of the company or organisation. This works equally well for someone who is an employee of an organisation as for the founder of a company.

Product story

“How did you come to being teaching business developers how to tell stories?”; or

“How did come to write a book on networking?”

The product story is like a background story but it’s about a specific product or service.

Example story

“So what do you actually do?”; or

“What kind of clients do you work with?”

The best way to tell this type of story, when asked what you do, is to keep the story focused on a specific client and why they came to you. Even though the question sounds like they want to know what you literally did, they are normally more interested in learning more about your clients and how they benefited from working with you.

The Catch-up story

“What have you been up to lately?”;  or

“What are you doing these days?”

This is more a question for people you have not spoken to for a while and is great because it can be answered in a number of ways. You can choose what to focus on including work, home life, or hobbies. You can even launch into a product story and talk about your exciting new product or tell an example story about a client you have recently finished working with.

Richard White
Richard White is a sales coach and trainer. He specialises in helping IT consultants win more sales through effective networking. Richard is the author of ‘The Accidental Salesman Networking Survival Guide’ and is a highly sought after speaker on the subjects of networking and soft selling.

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