If you were at a cocktail party and you had just met Amanda Marko, the conversation might go something like this.

At Christmas time last year, Amanda was talking to her sister at her family’s home in Cincinnati when her six-year-old niece, Evelyn, came walking up. “My sister told me that Evelyn had recently become pen pals with our cousin’s daughter,” says Marko. “I thought that was so cool.”

Amanda’s sister then reminded her that Amanda had also exchanged correspondence with numerous pen pals throughout their childhood. “The funny thing was, she was right,” says Marko. “But I had totally forgotten about it. I had pen pals from all over the world that I picked up from different places or trips.”

Today, Marko is a strategic communications executive and the founder of Connected Strategy Group, a consulting firm which trains high-level executives on how to use the power of connections and stories in business.

After the experience with her niece, Amanda realized “I’ve always been someone who finds connections and stays in touch. It really is true I’ve always been a person who likes meeting people.”

Connection Stories Reveal the True You

There’s a reason why Marko tells this story — which she calls her “connection story” — when she meets someone new. “Your connection story gives somebody a true glimpse into you,” says Marko. “You don’t just say ‘Hi, I’m very trustworthy, hardworking and diligent.’ But you can tell a story that gives the person you are talking to the impression that Amanda Marko is trustworthy, hardworking and diligent. “

In fact, stories are a great tool for making yourself memorable when you meet someone new. The problem with meeting someone new is the process is so routine — we’ve all done it so frequently — that it is very easy to fall in a rut.

Almost every time you meet someone new, it is very easy to get in a habit of explaining who you are and what you do in the same way, over and over again, without thinking.

You get bored with your own answers, so you don’t put energy and effort into thinking your answers through, even though how you respond may cement the first impression people have of you. In other words, rather than using a connection story, you tell people: Hi, I’m Joe, I’m trustworthy, hardworking and diligent.

In this post, however, I’m going to share the 4-step process for creating your own personal “connection story” which will enable you to be much more memorable when you meet new people.

Why How You Explain Who You Are and What You Do Matters

You may be wondering why it matters how you explain who you are and what you do.

Anytime you meet someone, it is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for you to make a good first impression. It’s an opportunity to create a solid foundation for a new relationship.

If you sleepwalk through your answers, you’ve just missed an opportunity. Either you miss an opportunity to make a good first impression, you miss an opportunity to be memorable, or you risk being seen as boring or disinterested.

 Continue reading for my four steps to creating your own connection story