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What do you do?

This by far is the worst question asked at networking events all over the world. I literally cringe at hearing that question. I usually answer with, ‘don’t you have a better question?’, which usually gets me a really disgusting look from the questioner.

The chances are when you go to a networking event you’ve already been agonising, on your journey there, about how to introduce yourself. In the end, when posed with that question, you’re likely to just say, ‘well I’m an accountant’. So that ended the conversation, 100% guaranteed. Everyone knows what an accountant is, don’t they? Well not really, accountants have stories too, they have clients, whose stories may interest you as a business owner and may actually reveal something about the values of this particular accountant. Nothing is certain in life, not even the life of an accountant.

How about instead of saying, ‘well, I’m just an accountant’, which is very likely what you would have said and just replace the title with your own title by the way, because that’s what I’ve heard you say. How do I know? I’ve heard thousands of people say the same thing, no matter where in the world.

Where was I? Oh yes, instead say the following, ‘do you have 60 seconds for a story?’, nobody will say no, you’ve just told them it will only take 60 seconds, great they think and you’ve told them that you’re going to share a story and EVERYONE loves a story.

Fact, we’ve been literally hard-wired (in our brains) to love stories. After all, you’ve loved stories since you were knee-high.

So to explain what I mean, I crafted a short 60 seconds story for an accountant. His name is James Ashbrook. Made up name completely fictional, so if your accountant has this name, it’s a complete coincidence.

Have you ever come across folk that leave their business finances until the last minute? Not you of course! Well, I had this client the other day, of course their business remains nameless, but his name was James. Well James hadn’t done his business accounts for 6 months. He kept the receipts though, really great job I thought, but he arrived on my door step with a couple of carrier bags. A couple of carrier bags! And they weren’t even bags for life, they were these really old supermarket plastic bags, you know the ones I mean right? I don’t think they even make those now! Anyway I got to work and then later that day, he chased me to see how far I got! The cheek of it, but I said nothing. Then he told me he needed to submit his accounts to his board of directors the next day! It was just bad after worse all along the way. Anyway, I’m sure you don’t need to hear ALL the ins and outs. The fact is I got it done, he was happy and the great outcome was that he hired me on a permanent basis, plus has recommended me to loads of his clients and connections. Sometimes it JUST pays to go the extra mile. I don’t only think that now, I know I go the extra mile. Yes, my name is James Ashbrook and I run an accountancy called ‘The Extra Mile’, I know we’re meeting now but I’d love it if we met for a coffee and cake too. Who doesn’t like cake, right? Here’s my card!

Not difficult was it?

So now it’s your turn, write your short story, make sure you include a character, yes it can be a completely fictional character, in order to demonstrate your business prowess. Share something that’s memorable, that includes how you solved your customer’s pain points. It’s always about the pain points.

Send me your draft and I will critique it, give you some pointers and then you must practice it in front of your camera and watch it back. Keep doing it until you are word perfect. And then try it out on the unsuspecting public at networking events. You will be in the minority, so you will be remembered for sure.

Happy networking!

Michael de Groot

Mind Map by Michael de Groot as presented at The Technology Supply Chain meeting 25 February 2020 in Birmingham UK

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Here I share thoughts and stories on matters that I feel compelled to comment on.

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Michael de Groot

Michael de Groot

Whiteboard Animations Producer, Storyteller and Podcast Host at Staying Alive UK Storytelling Productions | www.stayingaliveuk.com

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