How stories help you build your tribe

Have you ever been listening to someone and had a eureka moment? Those magic words where you want to jump to your feet and shout: yes! It happened to me at Youpreneur Summit while I was listening to Jessica Lorimer. The talk was about sales but that wasn’t what spoke to me, despite all the advice being useful and on point. What made me want to cheer from the rafters was when she spoke about her tribe.

Jessica told a room full of people, people who were ambitious, seemed happy to talk to a room full of strangers – there had been whooping in the room earlier – she told this audience about the need for hermit-time. Hallelujah! And then she revealed her tribe are eccentric wine drinkers. Yes!

A photo of a get together of friends with wine

I was so bowled over I took to Twitter.

We met up afterwards and got chatting. So much easier when you know you have something in common. It turned out she knows Cambridge, where I live, and we both liked the same restaurant.

Telling stories may not seem to directly relate to what you do in your business but they are how we find our connections with each other. That wonderful point where our worlds collide.

Humans are social, even if we need hermit time. We have shared experiences. Shared concerns, hobbies and pastimes. Your customers are not just focused on your product or service. They have a range of other interests and they like to do business with people who are like them. Knowing that you share a love of a cult classic or that you both reminisce about what your town was like when you were growing up, helps you create a meaningful connection with each other. You stop being a faceless brand and become a person.

I follow an online magazine called The Midult on Facebook. I like or share one of their posts most days. I do it because they tell stories which speak to me. I either nod sagely or burst out laughing. This is one from today:

The Midult, as their name suggests, knows their target audience. It is aimed at people of my age, probably with children, probably trying to juggle work and life and looking for a better balance. We’re also cynical and have a sarcastic sense of humour.

It’s not for everyone but it is for us.

Telling stories helps you find your tribe. The people who will relate to your shared experience.

And it’s ok if your story divides people. Marmite’s story is as divisive as possible: you love it or you hate it. It’s a story which works for them. It does their marketing for them. People know which camp they are in.

I spoke about storytelling at the first Cambridge Social Media Day recently. In among my tales about how stories inspire people to take action I spoke about the stories we tell ourselves when we walk into a room full of people we don’t know. It struck a chord.

Sometimes we feel scared to be us. To let people into our world. To tell our own stories. But as Charlotte Ashley-Roberts, who won Nicole Osborne‘s #BeTheHoff competition says, “be your best self, be true to what you believe in”. Tell your stories.

Nicole told her story about growing up in East Germany and how she was inspired by The Hoff, David Hasselhoff, who had everything she wanted. The result? People who had been to her talk at Cambridge Social Media Day posted pictures of themselves wearing David Hasselhoff masks.

People wearing David Hasselhoff masks

After the Youpreneur Summit Jessica Lorimer recorded an episode of her podcast Smart Leaders Sell taking listeners behind the scenes of the event. What it was like to be a speaker. She told stories about how she felt, about what speaking at the event meant to her, and how it inspired her business plans for next year. And she spoke about meeting the other speakers.

She said: “It was amazing to be surrounded by these incredible people and just learn from their experiences and hear what they are really about. And actually see behind the scenes, whether they are the same in real life as they were portraying online and that was really interesting for me. The majority of people were 100% the exact same in real life as they were online and for me that meant an awful lot.”

Knowing that these people she admired spoke and acted the same when she met them as they did when she read their work or watched their videos meant she knew who they were. She was able to connect with them easily because she had already got to know them online.

Our stories reveal truths. Our stories are shared. Our stories help us understand the world around us and how we relate to each other. Our stories build our tribe.

Rachel Extance (photo by Jemima Willcox)

Rachel Extance helps businesses tell their story. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. Rachel now helps businesses create communications strategies and write content which helps their customers and lets them see behind the scenes. She is also available for 1:1 consultations, training and public speaking opportunities. If you would like to know more email her rachel@extance.co.uk or contact her on social media.

2 thoughts on “How stories help you build your tribe

    • Thanks Helen. Yes, ‘authenticity’ is a much used word these days but being truly authentic is not something many businesses manage to be. We need to share more of our stories and understand each other better.

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