What's Your Story?

Biz Narrative Blog by Ruth Halpern

Observations and anecdotes about business narrative in the corporate world.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Crafting Your Business Narrative--a Lifelong Process

As a Business Narrative consultant, my job is helping people craft and tell the business stories that will help them win audiences. For both themselves and their organizations, they need stories that show:

• Who they are--what makes them unique and trustworthy?

• How they got to where they are today--how did their journey shape their destiny?

• Where they’re headed--what's their vision of the future, and their role in it?

Some of my clients are surprised to learn that, while I can easily help them with their stories, it’s been a long journey for me to develop my own business story.

I’ve been a Business Narrative consultant for over ten years. In that time, I’ve told people the story of what I do—helping people and organizations tell their best stories—at least 500 times. Each time, I lean in close, I study their faces as I tell my story, I look for the flash of understanding and the gleam of shared passion—I watch their faces to judge how my story is working. Then I go back to my dream space (aka, the corner chair in my office) to refine, rework, and retell the story. How best can I convey what I do? How can I vividly illustrate the benefits of working with me to create a powerful story?

This process takes time. And the best way to do the work is to tell your story, over and over, to a thoughtful, receptive listener who can help you take your story to the next level. What details should you include? How long should the story be? How technical? What images and metaphors are buried within the work itself that you can highlight and weave through the entire story?

I take each of my clients through this process. We begin with informal exercises that take us far afield from our final goal of a 10-second introductory story. We expand, explore, explain, digging for the buried treasure of their work stories. Only after we’ve collected a rich assortment of images and anecdotes do we begin to prune and shape the material into the actual story that they might tell to a prospect, colleague, or acquaintance at a social event.

As I tell them, a story is far more memorable than the “dead fish” of a job title or a business card. Stories build bridges between people, helping establish the relationships that all successful businesses thrive on.

By going through the story-crafting process consciously, my clients are able to expand and adapt their stories to fit different audiences and occasions. And when the core nature of their work changes, they come back to me again to help them modify or craft a new story.

If you’re ready to embark on the story crafting process, please contact me at info@rhalpernassociates.com.