All right, let’s talk about how to build career-growing stories. To an outsider, it might look complex:

  • Figure out the story to tell
  • Map out the 5-point structure
  • Know the person you’re telling it to
  • Time the story to the right time of day and the right platform
  • Don’t forget about the structure. Tension. Details. Keywords. The back-story of the character. The colour toothbrush your target uses.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that every story strategy is made of one master story — I call it a career brand. And the rest is micro-stories to support the career brand. And there are mainly 10 different story types.

I see it as a dance — there are many types of dance styles, but most are a quicker or slower (or stompier) variation of the other. And once you know the basics, you can do almost any dance.

Stories work the same.

If you can master these 10 story types, you have everything you need to be a technically sound storyteller.

You might ask, what makes this work? Can’t I just tell one or two stories and people understand me?

Knowing all these story types ensures you’re never stuck. If you only have a solid Tell Me About Yourself, (it’s a source story), you’re missing out on all the other stories that build an emotional connection (lifter story), trust (cred story), and desire (not the sexy kind, the hiring-kind).

A good story strategy is using one of each type of story every month or so.

If I was to map out how I do this on LinkedIn or Instagram it might look like this:

I know when I’ll use a particular story type and then I fill in the details. Each story type has its own rules, drawbacks, and purpose. The cool thing is that one event can be told in 10 different ways.

Now, when I go into workshops, networking events, or even when I am a guest on a podcast, I know the details of the stories I want to share. I also plan which story type is the best one to use.

I used this story structure within jobs too. I would share a different type of story every day with my boss. Some were short, “Hey, I made another sale.” Or, longer. “I noticed something in the database that might make things easier for us. Do you want to hear more?”

In the next article, I’ll share information on the story types, and when the best time to use them is (it’s part of my Story Strategy Template).

Today, I want to talk about how I used these Story Strategy Templates to grow my career.

I’ll give you a few examples of how using stories helped my career:

  • Earned me the title of LinkedIn Top Voice in 2018 (while career coaching was still a side-hustle)
  • Earned over 100k in class sales in one year
  • Got a free trip to Palm Springs to attend TEDWomen
  • Got a 45% salary increase, followed by another 30% increase 2 years later
  • Was able to quit my day job with a 3-month long waiting list of awesome clients

And all these things happened organically. I didn’t have to spend hours studying my stories or how they worked. It felt almost effortless. No stress. I knew when and where to use them. Some were one-time stories, and some I recycle every year.

(A quick aside, this Story Strategy Template is one part of the Career Stories Method).

OK, so how does the Story Strategy Template work?

One big question people ask is: “What kind of story should I share and when should I share it?”

After years of testing this out, a great beginner formula is:

  1. The Lifter
  2. The Cred
  3. The Helper
  4. The Source Story

You’ll notice it starts exactly the opposite of where most people start. Most people start a story strategy by asking for help or making an announcement like,

“I just lost my job, let me know if you hear anything.”

“I am so excited to share that the doors are now open to my life-changing program. Three spots left!”

Imagine you’re looking to buy something, who are you more attracted to?

  • A store that says “We have lots of stock and need you to buy it.”
  • A store that shares an uplifting or funny story, followed by a wonderful review they got, and then a story about how they helped a client, and lastly why they’re in the business they’re in.

I’d go for the second type.

I want to point out a couple of things:

  • Notice how not-sleazy these story types are? They are a way of you showing your great skills while helping others. They feel good to tell.
  • The stories are simple. Impactful stories don’t need to be complex.
  • Even though they are short, each story builds on the previous story.
  • Your story, if told right, sticks with people. So even if people in your network can’t hire you, your stories put you back on their radar and if they hear something right for you, you’ll be top of mind.

Keep in mind: You can always tweak the strategy. I usually follow a sequence of 10 story types, unless I am promoting something. If I want to sell a resume class, I’m going to add more results stories than usual. Once the class is sold-out, I return to the sequence.

I was working with a client last week and we came up with two sequences. One for launching her brand on Instagram where people know the personal side of her life. And, another story sequence for LinkedIn, where she is known professionally. She’s not looking to land new work. She wanted to raise her profile with her current company. When last I looked she had over 60 likes on her post and 28 comments. Whereas her other stories got about 12 likes or less, and no comments. That’s a slow but measurable impact. With every story she shares, the interest will rise, as will her reputation.

And while it looks simple, that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Sharing stories and getting people excited about your work can feel fun, light, and career-boosting.

Learning and using different story strategies totally changed my career.

Now it’s your turn…

What was the #1 thing you learned from this article and how will you apply it to your career?

Be specific. The more details you share make it more likely you’ll do it.