What’s your story? Your purpose. Your why. Networking can help you find it.

Storytelling is about finding your connection. As an employee or business owner. Inside Stories co-founder Gareth Dimelow joined us for a Q&A at our Club-Wide Online Meetup!

Gareth spoke about the impacts of the last 12 months on business stories, how understanding yours will make you a better networker, and questions you can ask yourself to create your own.

Thank you to meetup sponsor Pro Drive IT. Join them at their free ‘How to keep your staff happy when remote working’ webinar.

Bradley Hatchett & Gareth Dimelow

How has the last 12 months impacted the way a company tells their story?

The first thing we noticed going into Lockdown 1.0 is that every stopped spending money and assumed story telling is just marketing by any other name. It isn’t. 

It speaks to the driving purpose of the business. It’s the reason the business exists. We talk about the connection between the purpose of the founder and what the business actually does. When the two are linked – as they should be – then you’ve got an authentic and meaningful story.

I read a blog by Dave Trott (Marketing & Brand Specialist) who spoke about gym brands. He made a great point that there’s two types: ones that flourish and one that are going under. 

The gyms who think their gyms are just a space where people come and exercise are the ones that are struggling.

The ones that understand that their product is actually motivation, guidance, incentives are flourishing. They understand their purpose is not the thing they sell, it’s something more fundamentally grounded. 

That is the most powerful analogy for the importance of telling a story.

Does that mean businesses can change their story?

If you Google ‘Golden Circle’. There are many people repurposing what Simon Sinek said in his popular book ‘Start With Why’.

The problem is there’s no one out there helping people articulate their ‘why’. Saying you need a purpose is fine, but how you come up with it is the challenge.

All of our stories change all the time. It should be different each time. If it’s not, its not a story, it’s a script. I love talking about what we do as it’s always different. A story is not a script, its guiding principles.

How do you tell your story when networking?

It’s great if you are an entrepreneur and you connect your personal story to the business. But there’s lots of employees of businesses coming to networking events. 

The challenge for them is not just to talk about the business and its purpose, but for them to find their own personal aspirations and motivations, and how it connects to what the business does. 

How do your drivers as a human being link to what you have chosen to build a career in?

When I left big agency life I made two lists: what I’m good at and enjoyed. I decided that whatever I was going to do going into a new role had to fit on both those lists.

For employees that are part of a larger business, you can use networking to find out what your personal story is. 

It’s never boring if it’s personal and you’re passionate about it. No passion, no point.

As a business owner how do you get your story across to employees? As an employee how can you embrace that story?

That’s a two part question but one part answer. The key with storytelling is about finding the connection through the story.

They have a two way element to them. It gives you the chance to connect with that other person. Audiences like to piece things together themselves. The story is not you giving them everything they need to know. It comes together through engagement and audience participation.

For employers, engaging with employees, it’s a way of humanising their connection. It’s also a chance for employers to take that story on board and connect it with them.

What questions can people ask themselves to tell their story?

Articulate your purpose. The why. The first question should be: do you know what your why is?

One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years is that we’re all a bit uncomfortable with going too deep. Too personal. We need to make ourselves more accessible. Spend some time thinking about how the thing you’re building your life around, linking with your purpose.

Whatever you’re motivated by, how is it manifesting in what you do everyday?

Are there any examples you can share real life examples of good stories?

Your organisation, Network My Club, is a perfect example. Business like yours evaluated the situation, restructured their offering and looked at their core principles in order to meet the needs of their customer base.

When the world opens up again we’re not going to software like this. I think what you’ve probably found is that a lot of businesses have overcome their fear of in-person networking events. It’s the perfect example of the pivot in the age of Covid-19.