Top Ten Strategies ANYONE (Including Introverts) Can Use To Connect!
The following is an excerpt from the post Top Ten Strategies ANYONE (Including Introverts) Can Use To Connect! which can be found in it’s original form here.
Many people don’t realize that connecting with strangers is not a natural gift, but rather a skill to be learned. It’s true: ANYONE can learn to become a connector; regardless of how shy or introverted they are, if they are willing to force themselves out of their comfort zones even just a bit. By doing so, they will quickly learn to over-ride the fear, anxiety and shyness often associated with meeting new people. And before you roll your eyes and think, “Oh, it’s easy for you,” I have to tell you it’s not.
Trust me when I say that I get it: I understand that for many people, boldly approaching strangers is a fear-inducing-anxiety-filled-panic experience. I watch my son Tristan go through this on a daily basis; he’s painfully shy due to his muscular dystrophy and being worried that people are looking at him funny. But when he does let people in and makes friends with them, they are blown away at what a funny, humorous, wise, smart and charismatic guy he is… and he is all those things, and much more.
But as I gently try and explain to him, people can’t get to know him if he won’t give them the opportunity. Because the truth is that people genuinely want to meet and get to know each other; but these connections can’t happen if only one side participates. And my goal for the rest of this post is pretty simple; to introduce you to a few strategies that anyone can apply to help them meet new people.
ALWAYS Talk To The Person Sitting/Standing Next To You, Even If It’s Just Saying “Hi”: How many of us have suffered through long plane rides or grocery store line ups quietly ignoring all the people around us? I’ve been guilty of this, and frankly, it’s dumb and ridiculous. Say hello! Be polite and friendly! Saying hello to the person sitting/standing next to you on a flight doesn’t mean you are married to them, nor that you need to converse for the next four hours; it means you are friendly and open to a conversation. Besides, if you don’t say hello, how can you ever find out how to be of service to one another? You can’t! So just listen to Nike and ‘Just Do It’… besides, what’s the worst that can happen?
Be Genuinely Interested In Other People: To initiate conversation, try asking opened-ended questions; ones that require answers other than yes or no. For example, “Where do you live?” followed by something like, “I’ve not been there – what’s it like?” Once they’ve answered, and asked you the same, guess what? You will be having a conversation with a stranger! Sure beats the crickets you hear from asking things like, “Nice day, eh?”
Remember That Just Like You, Everyone Has a Story: More important to remember, we all want our stories to be heard; this is why one of the most powerful things we can do is to ask people about themselves, and then listen to what they say. Doubly important is not to be judgmental of others; because just as you don’t want to be judged, neither do they.
Be Proud to Tell People About Your (True) Self; Never, Ever Use Flattery To Try and Win Them Over: Don’t ever feel the need to make up stories to try and impress people; be honest and proud of who you are, and what you do – regardless of whatever it is. By the same token, don’t try and sound better than you really are, (Braggart: “I’m lead consultant for a high-level group of entrepreneurs who are creating and managing levels of wealth through blah-blah-blah…” You: “I thought you sold Amway?” Braggart: “I do!”) The fact that you have read this far tells me that you have a lot to offer, and therefore don’t need to try and be someone you aren’t yet. You are awesome the way you are RIGHT NOW; and the best part is we all know you’ll be even bigger and better next year!
The same goes for flattery; NEVER say “Oh, I like your hair,” if you don’t – find something genuine to talk about, and keep the conversation real – you know, ‘honesty is the best policy’ and all that. Just remember to always be your authentic self , because honestly, it’s the very best person you can be. Besides, everyone else is taken.
Oh, and if someone is judgmental of you, or what you do (i.e. “So, you sell Amway for a living? Really?”) You’ll quickly understand that this probably isn’t someone you want in your life, so be grateful they showed their true colours quickly and move on.
Smile. A. LOT. Do I really need to elaborate on this? I didn’t think so!
Say “Hello” to Everyone You Make Eye-Contact With: And I mean EVERYONE, even if it’s just walking down the street, in the line up at the grocery store or at the movie theater, just say hello to that random stranger standing next to you. Even if that’s all that you say, it helps you get comfortable with saying that first hello when the time comes for the big leagues. Truthfully, I make it a habit to say hello to every stranger I run into for that very reason – it keeps me well practiced for big events like conferences and conventions I attend! Besides, it’s the move that started it all for me!
Remember… Baby Steps: A wise friend of mine told me that this is all well and good, but I missed a key point – and he nailed it! (Thanks Kevin!) As mentioned, the key isn’t to try and slay a whole room at once, but rather just introduce yourself to one person at a time to get used to the process. Meeting people is hard, and it takes work – but with a little push from your subconscious, you can do it, especially by using the strategies here to make it easier. Remember, if this makes you uncomfortable, take baby steps – but make sure you add one or two more each time.
Don’t Wait For a ‘Good Time’ to Say Hello – Jump Right In NOW: Probably the most important way to overcome this fear is akin to ripping off a Band-Aid – whenever someone is in front of you, just stick out your hand and say, “Hi!” then see where it goes. I’ve been told that if we wait longer than three seconds to introduce ourselves we’ll begin to overthink this decision. Now let’s be honest, three seconds isn’t very much time – but it is the perfect amount to stop us from convincing ourselves that we’re subjecting our frail egos to horrific embarrassment and a the devastating lack of worth we’ll receive if we don’t just go for it. Besides, we all know those crazy ideas are just in our heads, right?
Always Follow Up: When you do make a solid friendship connection, make sure you follow up with more than just a friend request on Facebook. Send them an e-mail and invite them out for a coffee or beer, and tell them you want to share ideas, and see if you can support each other in your ventures. Maybe invite them to meet your other like-minded friends. The point is to do something – ANYTHING – other than just waiting for them to take action and create the connection. Remember: You must take action or you can’t create the connections! Because the reason why most people don’t connect with others is they don’t take the follow up action that will confirm the relationship.
Remember, Everyone Wants To Be Heard: Let’s face it: We all want to be heard, but often don’t know how to do it… Hence why I’m writing this post! And this is the very best reason of all to reach out to strangers – to give them the opportunity to share their stories and be heard. Remember the lady who waited 4 days to connect with people at the conference? After that she finally reached out (baby step!) and instantly gained 15 supporters and friends who wanted to learn more about her – but she had to reach out FIRST.
So there you have my top ten strategies on how to best meet folks. Try thinking of it this way: Reaching out and asking questions to strangers is akin to offering a gift to people who might have a hard time doing the same; but like all of us, who have much to say and want to be heard. I’m asking you to be the one to take that first bold step, and reach out to strangers. Connect with them. Listen to their stories, and then share yours as well. Give others the gift of friendship, and then be prepared to receive it back yourself. Best of all, do this simple step, and you’ll never eat alone again.
When not travelling to the far corners of the earth, David enjoys speaking to groups about his life experiences; If not speaking or writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son, usually eating good food and drinking good wine at their home in beautiful Victoria, B.C.