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Be memorable – Have you ever been forgotten by someone you’ve met before? If so, then you know how much that can sting. How can they forget you, when you remember them?
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, Amanda Marko, a strategic communications consultant, says to always be armed with your own “personal connection story.” Basically, it’s a personal story or anecdote you can use immediately after you’ve met someone new that illustrates who you are and what you do in an entertaining way.)
“Your connection story gives somebody a true glimpse into you,” says Marko. “You don’t just say ‘Hi, I’m very trustworthy, hardworking and diligent.’ But you can tell a story that gives the person you are talking to the impression that Amanda Marko is trustworthy, hardworking and diligent.”
Why are personal connection stories so important? Almost every time you meet someone new, it is very easy to get in a habit of explaining who you are and what you do in the same way, over and over again, without thinking.
A personal connection story, on the other hand, is more entertaining and memorable. It’s an opportunity for you to make a good first impression and create a solid foundation for a new relationship.
Here are four simple steps you can follow to create your own personal connection story:
1. Create story markers.
The first step is to create “story markers” that indicate where and when the story happened (i.e. Christmas time in Cincinnati). These markers orient the listener in place and time.
2. Develop a progression of actions, or story arc.
“The story should be in the form of ‘one, two, three’ or there should be a cause and effect,” says Marko. Without a progression of actions — or a series of events that lead from one to another — you don’t have a story.
3. Identify the people in your story.
Identify the characters and their relationship to one another, use dialogue and use people’s names, as you are more likely to form a picture in your mind of that person.
Related: 6 Tips for Overcoming a Bad First Impression
4. Explain the point of the story.
How often has someone told you a story she found to be funny or profound and you’re left confused and not sure of the point? Try to avoid this problem.
At the end of your connection story, you need to give a short summary (usually one sentence) of what it all means. For instance, if you are telling a story about your networking abilities, at the end you could say, “It really is true I’ve always been a person who likes meeting people.” This helps the listener connect the dots.
5. Find your own personal connection story.
If you don’t believe you have a good connection story, don’t sweat it. Ask a close family member or a friend if they can think of any stories involving you that illustrate who you are as a person. They may find one for you.
Also, there may actually be stories that you naturally tell when you meet someone new, but you’re not attuned to it. For the next few weeks, pay attention to what stories you tell when you meet someone new. If your story hits all four of the above points, you may have a good connection story.