Story Telling Twitter Chat with Gill Andrews @StoriesWithGill #VCBuzz

twchat-gillStory telling is a great way to gain loyal brand ambassadors, attract media attention and have your message spread. This is something I was talking about in my @entrepreneur article. “How to tell your story so that everyone listens” – that’s the topic of today’s Twitter chat!

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About Gill

Gill had been working as an IT consultant for the last 5 years, but when she went on maternity leave, she started a blog to keep her brain occupied…

Here it is: True Stories with Gill. The tagline of the blog is that fictional stories can never match the true stories of life. The stories that happen to real people. The stories of personal struggle, success and failure, difficult choices, hard work and calling.

So that’s what we are talking about today: Story-telling!

Questions we discussed

Q1 Why stories? What was your AHA! moment encouraging you to start a blog filled with people’s stories?

I started a blog to share my writing and tell my own true stories, mostly because I’m completely incapable of making stuff up. But soon I realized that I’m no James Bond in retirement and there were not so many stories to tell. During first half a year I’ve written posts in lots formats. A couple of them were these kinds of interviews, the True Stories. I was still in the process of figuring out what my blog should be about when Rob @philbinmedia shared an interview from my blog. He wrote a comment saying these interviews are unique, and that I should concentrate on them. Sometimes you need somebody else to tell you something you’ve known long ago to finally take it seriously. Within next week I restructured my blog completely to focus only on the True Stories. And now comes the actual answer to Q1:

We often live our lives in our own little worlds, either thinking that we are alone or that everybody else is like us. The truth is that no matter how unique your situation is, there is always somebody out there going through the same thing. And no matter how many people think the same way you do, it doesn’t mean that it is the best, the right or the only way. The truth is that no matter how unique your situation is, there is always somebody out there going through the same thing. And no matter how many people think the same way you do, it doesn’t mean that it is the best, the right or the only way. But we wouldn’t know, as our little worlds keep us too busy to look outside. So I decided to change that at least for myself. I choose stories I personally find interesting. I ask things *I* am curious about. This way at least one person enjoys it ? But it looks like other people enjoy True Stories as well. Although they are often >3000 chars and free of funny cat gifs. True Stories give a glimpse into lives of others. Challenge opinions. Help relate. I’d like to think they make a difference.

Q2 How do you find people willing to tell a story on your blog?

As I tell true stories of ordinary people, it’s easy. I look around. My first interviewees were my G+ friends.When I ran out of people I knew to interview, I made a post with the title “Wanted: Next Interviewee”. It worked.I believe everybody has a story to tell. And a lot want their story to be heard. I simply and gladly help them with it. I also understand telling these stories is a matter of trust. I feel honored that my interviewees find me trustworthy. I’m always looking for new stories though. If you are interested, check out this info and drop me a line.

Q3 How to tell your story so that everyone listens? How to get noticed? How to stand out? How to “market” your story to build your personal brand?

I hope you guys have the rest of the day free for me to answer this question properly ? Let’s split it in 3 parts:

1. First, it needs to be a good story told well. You need to be good with words, no matter what your story is about. How you tell your story matters a lot. Words are as much of an instrument as a violin. You need to learn how to play. “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” is for ex. something that will help you write better in days. Although @kseniaanske might disagree. She thinks “writing rules are there to be broken”, and of course also has a point. Do check her post “On writing rules…” as well as the latest post by @kseniaanske “Your writing style is you”. For the record: @kseniaanske doesn’t even know who I am. I just find her advice to be very helpful and refreshing. But even the greatest story of all is wasted if nobody’s listening. A difficult task in the world of info overload. For people to listen to you, you first need to listen to them, as we take interest in those who take interest in us. I’m sure we all know the “how-to”s of promoting a post on social media. But why is the response sometimes so poor? Assuming you already have a following and your post looks “by the book”, two reasons. No wait, only one! You are talking too much about yourself. And unless you are James Bond in retirement, nobody will really listen. Talk about others. Or how whatever you do can benefit them. Help people with no strings attached. Engage on their content. Let me guess: you’ve heard all this before. Well, then I can only confirm that this advice works, as this is how I do it.

Yes, definitely the same applies for the introverts. I’m an introvert, although some people say they’d never guessed. We introverts are very talkative and open people. But only if we are having a meaningful one-on-one conversation.

In real life, I might have excused myself from this kind of party with a gazillion of people.But right now from where I’m sitting it looks to me that I’m a) speaking publicly (which I absolutely enjoy doing)and b) I’m having meaningful… one-one-one conversation replying to you guys individually.So online world is made for introverts to share their personality. Especially if there can’t be “awkward science” :DSo if you are an introvert and having troubles “being you” just imagine you are talking to that one particular person.

2. To get noticed and stand out, you should (drums, please)… produce good quality content on regular basis and “be human”. Ask yourself, would you read the article you wrote/buy a product you sell? If not, then don’t expect others to. Are you satisfied with the quality of your work? Are you passionate about what you do? If you are not, it will show. Another important aspect: people relate to people, not brands (unless you are Apple). Show your personality. You don’t have to reveal your darkest secrets, but you need to show your “human side” behind that avatar/head shot. As my friend and the first interviewee @LanySullivan said: When people know, like and trust you, your business will explode.

3. And this is also how you build your personal brand: listen, help others, take genuine interest, show your personality. Be a person you’d like to be best friends with. As much as we love our Facebooks, we long for meaningful human interaction. Make that time your readers spend to real your story meaningful, strike a cord, and they will come for more. I’m sure there are other ways, but this is how I do it. And I think it works well for “both sides” ?

Q4 You are one of our awesome early adopters of @MyBlogU. It’s the project that aims at helping people share their stories as well! How did you find us? What do you think of the project?

I saw a post on G+ about @MyBlogU. I believe it was from you Ann @seosmarty. The description seemed interesting. I checked the site out and found the idea interesting as well. I think I checked everything there was to check that day. I love being an early adopter! It is not so overcrowded, you can take time to look around, and soon everyone knows everyone. It’s also easier “to be heard”, if the crowd is less. I’m really excited to see what @MyBlogU will become. I was glad to see that it’s not some “let’s have million of features to be able to do everything” kind of thing. It’s nice to have something that has a concrete focus so that the crowd share same interests per definition. Somewhere else I would first need to find the right groups/circles. And here it’s like the “right group” got its own web site ? So I’m definitely staying on board! Did I mention I love the early adopter thing? I love the early adopter thing!

Q5 Being a mom is already busy. Why did you need to start a blog to keep yourself even busier? How do you keep yourself organized?

Being a mom and writing a blog are two different kinds of busy. I have a restless brain that feels unhappy without a challenge. The biggest challenge my baby poses so far is how to bring him to bed, and there is only so much “brain” one needs for that ? I’m actually a software developer, but I always had a thing for writing. I’m glad I went for it, even if it adds on todos.

As for keeping yourself organized, it – as well as a lot of other things in life – really depends on “how much you want it”. Here are you. Somewhere far away is your goal. And in between you have a gazillion other things you have to do, and a baby. But if your goal is always on your radar, everything you do otherwise will be automatically directed towards it. I “write” my intros while taking a shower, type the questions for an interview while the baby is sleeping in the stroller.

Nap times are for G+, and once-twice a week I take a couple of hours from my sleep to answer the emails and to do editing. It takes at least a couple of weeks to produce an interview, also because it’s not just a 10 min chat I then write down. And as much as I wish for the process to be faster, moving forward slowly it’s still moving forward. And on days I’m not able to make any progress and move towards my goal, I just lie in its direction to make a point ?

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