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Don’t be a Chandler: how to tell your business story

Anyone who’s ever been to a networking event knows that most of the responses to “and what do you do?” wind up sounding a lot like: “I do statistical analysis and data reconfiguration for other companies.” Huh?

If you’re a fan of the TV show Friends, you may recognize that as Chandler Bing’s job description. You may also remember that no one could remember what Chandler Bing’s job was. No wonder.

Speaking with a prospect about your work can be tricky. You want it to sound compelling, but at the same time, you don’t want it to sound too out there. A well-meaning colleague once introduced me as “a storyteller”. It was hard to keep from wincing.

Here’s the thing, though. He wasn’t too far off. When people ask what I do, I will mention market research and then add that “I facilitate conversations between you and your market, so you know what they need from you.” The contextualizing ‘market research’ bit doesn’t put a light in anyone’s eyes. But the second part sure does.

As an example, I’ll tell them a quick story about the time I saved a provincial government a lot of money by reassuring them that there was no need to worry about cautioning citizens of the dangers of raw milk. Despite news headlines to the contrary, the research indicated that only about 2% of the population actually wanted to try it. I finish by saying: “And just like that, I help clients make smarter decisions.”

People love the raw milk story, and will sometimes cite it back to me months after we’ve met. The reason that it resonates is just that – because instead of giving prospects a lot of dry facts, I told them a story. It’s a story that quickly demonstrates both what I do and the value that it provides. And it’s a story that makes people more interested in working with me.

Inciting interest in your work isn’t generally about giving a hard sell and mentioning every award you’ve ever won. It’s about making your work relatable and memorable, and underscoring the value you will provide.

Chandler could have made his work sound more interesting if he’d said: “I tell businesses which customers are their whales – and the next piece of plankton to put in front of them.” Likewise, you will generate more interest in your work if you can also figure out how to turn your outcomes into a better story.

Want to learn more about how to turn a prospect into a client the easy way? Click here to join the waitlist for my online course: Easy Business Development for Freelancers.


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