From Strangers to Partners: How to Use Storytelling to Build Strong Business Relationships

The first time I saw Nadia, it was on a photo on LinkedIn. She was featured with two (amazing) women I knew and I left a comment.

Although I knew the two women in the photo, I had never heard of Nadia, nor were we connected.

Nadia answered my comment and we started chatting. We’d write to each other and discovered how much we had in common, not personally but professionally.

We shared our stories online, for two years.

One day Nadia mentioned that her organisation was looking for a trainer and my communication and storytelling expertise plus the purpose of my work, would fit in perfectly.

So after two years of online conversation, I met Nadia for the first time in Siena, Italy.

We went from being complete strangers to having an amazing business relationship. And all we did was sharing stories with each other.

From strangers to partners: how to use storytelling to build strong business relationships Beatrice Ngalula Kabutakapua

Business relationships are human relationships

My ambitious clients entrepreneurs are often worried about connecting with their possible clients because of the business nature of the relationship.

What we often forget though, is that business relationships are human relationships. And human relationships are built on trust. And one of the elements that allow us to trust someone is if we know something about them, something about their story.

If we as humans are rings of a chain, storytelling is our connector.

No matter why we do it: it might be to get new clients, to start a collaboration, to apply for funds, to find a new job… every business relationship is strengthen by storytelling. Period.

From strangers to partners: how to use storytelling to build strong business relationships KABUTAKAPUA Beatrice Ngalula blog post

How to use storytelling to build strong business relationships

Business storytelling is a hot topic nowadays, problem is often we are not explained the step-by-step method to actually do it. Which is why I want to share a brief list of actions you can take to use storytelling to build stronger business relationships:

1. Learn to tell a story

That’s the obvious one. If you don’t feel confident with your storytelling skills, learn and practice. It can be through a course or one-to-one sessions like the ones I run. During my boost call session, I share SHAPE, the method I created to tell ANY story.

2. Know what you want to share

Not everything needs to be shared in a story or needs to be shared at all. So spend sometime thinking what is the story you’d like to share. Remember, is not just about what you do or about your title but mostly about WHY you do whatever it is that you do. When did you decided to focus on that? What event, person or eureka moment prompted you to do what you’re doing? Who do you want to help? 

3. Be authentic

Whatever that means, right? Being authentic is about believing in what you’re saying and adopting your own way of saying it. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your story through video, you shouldn’t have to. Instead, you can write or have phone conversations at first.

4. Listen 

Creating a business relationship through storytelling has much to do with how to tell a story as it has to do with how much you listen to the response. Listening actively is one of the best kept secret about relationships. Introduce yourself, share a piece of you and then give space to the person to do the same. Or also, ask for questions.

5. Don’t over do it

When you go to a party and you don’t know anyone, you slowly introduce yourself and share information about yourself and what you do. You share, you listen. You don’t just blab out all the things you want to say, right? It’s the same when it comes to tell a story to build a business relationship. Don’t over do it right away, give each part the time to get to know each other. Remember that building a business relationship takes time, consistency and care.

6. Be yourself (no matter what they say)

Business relationships are human relationships. So be human, be you. Ideally, be the best version of yourself. If it doesn’t work out, that’s totally fine and normal. Not all relationships are supposed to bloom. If you don’t click with the first person, try the next one.

Be an inspiring storyteller

It takes time but you’re getting there

Building stronger business relationships through storytelling takes time. It’s a process. You have to be patience and keep at it. And if it feels slightly uncomfortable is because you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and that’s a good thing. If your guts are telling you that’s not the right type of person to connect with, trust them as well.

Remember that you are free, you’re in power and you can decide who to share your story with.

Now, I’d love to know. Is there a Nadia in your life? Someone you connected with and built a business relationship over time?

Tell me about them in the comments below.