In a part 1 of Networking the New Way I shared with you a plan on how you can begin to network with complete strangers…or people you didn’t really know. I tell you as somewhat of an introvert I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about testing this theory, but I knew I needed to try if I was going to conquer my “fears”. So, experient #1 was to sit down at a table or near someone you didn’t know, on purpose, and strike up a conversation. Now, you must know that I am always cognizant of people and their annoyance level(s). It always bothers me when someone comes to me and starts talking and can’t see that I am preoccupied or in a “please don’t bother me” mode. It’s not a mean look or mode but one that an observant person should be able to pick up on. So as I began to attempt this experient, my radar was on high alert for “dont’ bother me” body language.
I was at the Seattle airport and had just gotten my lunch and needed a place to sit. The area was crowded and all the tables were occupied, but I saw a young lady who was sitting at a four top by herself. I thought maybe just maybe, she will be the one…so I asked her if I could sit down and she very nicely in her accent said yes. Now she seemed very engaged in her mobile device as we all generally are, but I didn’t let that deter me. I asked if she was from Seattle, assuming this was a safe question that could lead to more conversation…she was from the UK and was just flying through the city. We had about a five min convo about how pretty the space we were in was and then…of course…my phone rang. I had to take it, so that severed our convo. Although, we didn’t get to get into any deep conversation, I will call this a successful completion of round 1. Why??? well, I got passed my fears and took the leap into the uncomfortable zone of initiating conversation with a stranger. I’m hoping the more I do this the easier it will become and the deeper the conversations will get, but you have to start somewhere.
Do you do this? Strike up conversations with strangers? I mean I can talk to people I know or to people I have common interests with all day long, but a complete stranger? Didn’t your momma tell you not to talk to strangers?!?!?!? I mean who is this person, do you really want to talk to them? For me, it’s more of initiating a conversation with someone and not knowing what to say. Not wanting to look completely ignorant with the other person and appear to be wasting their time. This experience was cool because we weren’t there to learn anything new and we weren’t there to judge one another…we were just eating lunch and waiting for our plane(s). So the common denominator between us was that we were both young (smile), we were both eating lunch, we were both waiting on something and we were both alone. My goal next time is to pick the person a little more carefully and hopefully make some sort of deeper connection with them and we can truly network/connect with one another.
What are your tricks for connecting with people/strangers?