What is an origin story, you ask? If you’ve ever seen a Marvel movie or read a comic book, you know that all superheroes have an origin story. This is the tale at the beginning of the movie that sets up our hero’s journey: a rise from humble beginnings with trials and tribulations along the way until we reach an aha moment where the hero’s unique talent is revealed. The great thing about origin stories is that everyone has one. And when you share yours dynamically and authentically, you never know who you will attract.
You’ve heard it before: networking is the key to success. You never know who you might connect with – a potential client, collaborator or even a business partner. Sometimes, however, networking can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re an introvert. It’s tough to show up to event after event, getting cards for LinkedIn contacts but not much else. A person can only take so much small talk while spewing industry jargon. It takes confidence to stand out while networking, and a great tool to help you shine is a deliverable origin story.
Now imagine you’re at a networking event, but instead of your current industry, you’re at a networking event for superheroes. Everyone there is schmoozing, but a couple of heroes really have their origin story’s down. Peter Parker of Spiderman fame leans into how even though he was bitten by a radioactive spider as a teen, he pushed through the adversity of being forced to rapidly grow and used his newly acquired skills to champion for others. Batman talks about his love for tech development stemmed from the early childhood loss of his parents, and how his research into military grade combat gear is helping keep his community safe for its citizens. Superman discusses his outsider status growing up in Smallville, USA, which lead him to want to learn the stories of others, landing him as a career journalist (who has an occasional habit of inserting himself in the narrative). These are all people who would be beneficial to your network, if not your business. And they didn’t hook you by telling you their company’s market share: they hooked you by telling you their origin story.
Power of Your Origin Story
Now if you’re thinking “Dear Pitches, I don’t have an origin story!” Sorry, you’re wrong, my friend. The key to your origin story is discovering what’s unique about you and highlighting it an authentic way that shows your strengths. Think about what got your business to where it is today: how did you start? Was it an idea that bit you in the middle of the night that immediately changed you, like Peter Parker’s radioactive spider? How did your past trials and tribulations help guide your leadership decisions? What makes you unique, interesting, and exciting to get to know?
You Are a Superhero
We all have this inside us. If you don’t know where to begin, here is one of my tricks: get a giant post-it note and put it on a wall you walk by often (in your office, your kitchen, etc). Put ORIGIN STORY at the top, and for the next couple of days anytime you think of reasons you started your business just jot down a note and walk away without judgment. If you’re away from your home or office, keep a running list in your phone that you can add to your post-it later. After a day or two, a pattern will emerge. Pick the topics and details you find interesting and start to weave together a story of how and why you created and grew your company. You’ll be surprised at how fascinating the journey has been, and how you’re on your way to being the most interesting person at your next networking event.
At the end of the day, companies connect because they have mutually beneficial goods and services, but the people that grow those companies connect because of authentic relationships. When you network, do so not only the health of your organization in mind but the power of connection. And when you attract people with the power of your origin story, you’ve become the superhero of your company.