How to Tell Success Stories
By Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon
Jan 30, 2003 - 8:56:00 AM

When somebody asks you, "What's new?" what do you say?

Elaine Merritt says, "I'd say, 'I'm training for a marathon.' If I tell people, then they'll ask me, the next time we meet, 'How's the marathon training going?' That keeps me motivated -- and committed to my goal." She believes the key to answering that question is to gain support from others. Elaine is sales manager for a radio station in Muncie, Indiana.

Sharon Schmidt says, "I'd tell the person, 'I've moved my business. My new location is in a better area of town -- and the rent is actually lower!'" She believes the key to answering that question is to provide some information. Sharon owns her own graphic design business in Merced, California.

Both Elaine and Sharon have good answers. But all too often, people reply, "Not much. What's new with you?" Ooops! That reply leads to another one of those superficial conversations, not a great connection.

A better reply is to tell a success story. Sharing your success can allow you to teach your conversation partner what you do, what you're interested in (like Elaine), how you serve customers or clients, something important about your business (like Sharon) or what you or your firm have to offer.

Before you go to your next networking or professional association meeting, plan your success story. As you construct your story, be sure to keep it

Short . Make it no longer than three sentences.

Unique . Point out what makes you stand out. If you're in real estate, for example, don't just say, "I've been selling lots of houses." That's expected. Say, "Last week, I found a home for a couple who both needed home offices. Both of them wanted first floor offices with outside access, lots of light, and great views. I found just the home, with French doors to a patio just off the driveway." (This story teaches your conversation partner that you can find the unusual home.)

Clear . Be sure you eliminate all jargon of your profession.

Concrete . Give a couple of specific details to help your partner get a vivid picture. Notice that you can almost "see" the home described above.

Exciting . Let your enthusiasm shine through. Use vivid language, an upbeat tone of voice, and a speedy, not "draggy," delivery.

Service-oriented . Be sure that your story teaches how well you serve your customers or clients.

Strategic . Think about what you want people to know about you or your business, then find or build your story around that point.

You can plan several success stories on several topics, then use the one that seems most appropriate to the person you are talking with.

Make telling success stories part of your Smart Networking strategy.

Lynne Waymon and Anne Baber are nationally known strategic networking experts and professional speakers who help professionals build business relationships to grow their business and careers. For more information call 352-438-0261 e-mail or

Feedback Be sure to include the article title in your comments.

© Copyright 2001