Let’s get into the reality. We all need some helpers, mentors and referrals in our life. The need turns into a humongous chore, when you start looking for a job. But, it isn’t so hard as you think. The problem is ‘majority of the people underestimate the value of interacting with strangers’. With the right approach, that person sharing the elevator with you could become a future business partner, a career-changing connection, or a lifelong friend.
Steps to circle Strangers into Connections:
1. LOOK APPROACHABLE & FRIENDLY
We’ve all seen people walking down a hall with their head down or sitting at a table engrossed with their phone. Body language speaks volumes, and they’re sending signals that they don’t want to be bothered. Instead, get interested in the people around you. “A smile shows that you’re open to a conversation”. A friendly look can attract many.
2. SAY HELLO & START WITH LITTLE INTERACTION
It sounds old-fashioned, but a quick “hello” will break the ice. Use a little interaction or gesture to build up your ‘hello’ into a lengthy meet. A simple “Hello, May I know the time” convo can turn the volumes up.
3. ASSUME THE OTHER PERSON IS SHY
Seventy percent of people proclaim they’re shy, says statistics. Knowing this puts you in the same boat.
You don’t have to be an extrovert to talk to a stranger. “We’re all so worried what other people might think about us. The truth is that no one cares because they’re worried about themselves.”
So, stop overthinking. Act like you’re perfect. You know the trick, “Fake it, till you make it”. Don’t try to climb six steps in a single go. Make it a slow and steady climb.
4. FIND A COMMON GROUND
Whether it’s a mutual friend, location, experience, or point of view, find something in common with another person and start a conversation. You can also ask the person if they have children or pets. Or pay attention to your environment.
It’s really easy to find common ground. “You can strike up great conversations with people on airplanes or in airports simply because both of you are in transit”.
5. BE FULLY PRESENT AND LISTEN
Give the people you are meeting with the courtesy of your full attention when you are with them.
Bill Clinton is known for his ability to be fully present even when he is with someone for a few seconds. “The average attention span is eight seconds. Paying attention makes you more memorable and your communication richer.”
6. DISAGREE & SHARE YOUR OPINIONS
You don’t need to nod all the time. Stop impressing him/her. Learn to disagree. Also, share your views on the subjects, experiences and opinions. This will let the person to know that, your thoughts are not blind.
If you agree on everything that comes to you, then you’re not even in the game. You may end up building a bad impression too.
7. DECIDE THE NEXT STEP
If you’re striking up a conversation with someone in a Metro ride, you probably won’t meet them again. But if there was something common & fascinating, then it’s perfectly fine to ask for the person’s business card.
“Follow up within 24 hours by sending an email to simply say thank you for your time”. Then, build your rapport by sharing an article or a story that imparts the link between you two.
Who knows, you may just hit a home run there. Stay tuned to get more.