What’s Your Story?

Recently, I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to splash around in the networking pool to help promote my brand.  Author and public speaker, Seth Godin says, “…that marketers tell stories. We tell them to clients, prospects, bosses, suppliers, partners and voters. If the stories resonate and spread and seduce, then we succeed.”

My story is that I’m an aerospace engineer turned photographer, but I often wonder if that’s enough to leave a lasting impression.  Will my story stick with my audience?  Have I made interesting conversation that sparks curiosity?  If not, how can I put a seductive spin on my story without coming off as grandiose or a down-right liar?  And after all that effort, will they like me?  Sounds like the questions I ask myself when I’m on a first date!  To think of it, networking is a lot like dating.  You never know who you’ll meet and how that person could change your life unless you give it chance.  I should take my own advice when it comes to dating. I’ve been single for how long now!?!  Sorry, that’s irrelevant.

A lot of people find networking to be very uncomfortable, especially if you don’t have the gift of gab or a natural instinct to socialize.  But, if you’re in the business of promoting your business, then gird your loins and learn to put yourself out there.  It will be awkward at first, but the more you do it, the more you’ll get the hang of it (again, like dating!).  Here’s a tip: If social situations are really unbearable for you, ease your way into the networking scene by bringing a friend who has a knack for approaching strangers with confidence and grace.  And if your friend is attractive, that helps too.  And don’t forget to dress appropriately.  You don’t want to make a first impression with a potential client in your gym clothes or PJs (unless, of course, they’re that kind of client).

In my networking experience, I’ve found that people like to talk…a lot.  So if you’re brave enough to step out from behind your camera and start networking, ask questions.  Have them tell you their story.  That way, all you have to do is listen, and people will actually remember you for being interested in what they have to say.  And who knows?  Maybe after all that listening, you’ll find that you’re able to share your perspectives sans nervous stuttering.

So, what’s your deal?  Do you have an interesting journey into photography?  I’m all ears.

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