Do you ever feel like the wall flower? Have a hard time talking to strangers? Not everyone is a natural born networker. Some people have a harder time starting conversations with strangers than others do. If you want to move your business forward, you’ll have to become comfortable talking to anybody anywhere. (Yes, this includes the random stranger at the coffee shop!).
Do’s For Making Contact
While you don’t want to come off as a creepy stalker, you really want to make contact with that guy in the line for coffee. Using your observation skills, what might you notice about him that you can use to make a connection? Look for things that you will have in common and can build on.
- Look approachable. Make sure to smile and make eye contact. If you LOOK uncomfortable, they are going to notice. You want to be friendly and genuine.
- Say Hello. Sometimes a simple hello is all it takes to spark a conversation. Don’t forget to add your smile and make eye contact. Be friendly!
- Look for Common Ground – Kids, pets, the weather … find something you have in common with them and start a conversation. You’ll be surprised how many things you have in common with a stranger.
- Pay Attention – Be courteous and really pay attention to what they say. Practice active listening. People can tell when you’re paying attention and when your mind is wandering.
- Follow Up – If they turn out to be someone you want to connect with on a deeper level, go ahead and ask for their business card. Let them know you’ll be in touch. Bonus points if they ask for yours too. Make sure to send them an email or give them a call within 24 hours.
- Accept Rejection – Not everyone is going to respond to you. Don’t take it personally. Maybe they are having a bad day, distracted, or just don’t like talking to people they don’t know.
Practice DOES make perfect. Take some time every day to practice talking to someone you don’t know. The more you do it, the better you will get and the more comfortable you’ll become! You’ll find your networking skills improve as well. Soon, you won’t have any problems talking to anybody anywhere.