Advertising
Advertising

6 Ways To Turn Any Strangers Into Your Connections

6 Ways To Turn Any Strangers Into Your Connections

It’s not easy meeting new people, especially if you feel particularly shy. It is much easier to just walk by a person and never make eye contact. This may be OK at the store, but what if you’re at a convention, a trade fair or even a local festival. That person that you just walked past could be a valuable contact. Or they could know someone you want to know. They also could be a jerk. But you’ll never know unless you put yourself out there and find out for sure.

Will some people reject you and not want to talk to you? Yes. But who cares? For every 10 people you talk, one or two of them could become valuable connections — or lifelong friends. What have you got to lose?

Advertising

Here are a few ways you can overcome your fear and turn strangers into new connections:

1. Say “Hi.”

Just say “Hi,” to someone. You’d be amazed at how quickly you get a friendly response. When I worked in restaurants, we often had rules like, “say hello within a minute of someone walking in” or “answer the phone within three rings.”

Advertising

Practice with people wherever you are – the grocery store, the bank, the farmers’ market. Just say “hello” and smile. You’ll be amazed by how many people respond.

2. Look Approachable

How you look and act says a lot about how people react to you. No, this doesn’t mean you have to wear a coat and tie. In fact, being in more relaxed clothing might make you seem more approachable. Your body language is key. Are slumped over, looking at the ground? Straighten up! Look ahead and make eye contact with people as you walk by, even if you don’t stop to talk. When someone is near you, make sure you look receptive. Don’t cross your arms over your chest. Instead, put your arms down, or behind your back, making your body look more open. Smile or at least relax your face so you don’t look tense.

Advertising

3. Assume the other person is shy

So if you’re shy and they’re shy, how are you going to meet? Well, since you’re the one reading this article, you have the advantage and can assume the other person is too shy to say anything. So, overcome your fear and walk over to them. Talk about the weather or baseball or if they’re holding a book or magazine, ask what they’re reading. You’d be amazed at how many connections are made by simply saying, “some weather we’re having, huh?”

4. Practice

Just like anything else, you can’t get good at something until you practice it. Take the opportunity, wherever you are, to talk to strangers (yes, I know what your mother said. I say the same thing to my kids). You will probably feel awkward at first. Perhaps even a little bit silly. But you will find that after a while, it becomes almost second nature to talk with people at the store or the park.

Advertising

5. Find common ground

While you’re chatting with someone, pay attention to the things they seem to like — or notice where you are. If you’re at the car parts store, ask about their car interests. If you’re at the farmers’ market, ask if they have a garden. Find out if they have kids, go fishing, whatever. Most likely, you will have something to talk with this new person about.

6. Decide if you’re interested in pursuing

At the end of a conversation, you have to decide whether or not you want to pursue this relationship. If you do, present the person with your card or ask for theirs. Alternatively, ask for an email address or Facebook connection. Say something cheery like, “we should meet up sometime and talk more.” If you don’t want to pursue this connection, just be gracious, say “good talking to you.” And chalk up the conversation up to experience.

 

More by this author

Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

8 Things to Remember When You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life 30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much 10 Benefits of Deadlifts You Probably Never Knew 9 Benefits of Jumping Rope You Probably Don’t Know 9 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job

Trending in Work

1 How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work 2 20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs) 3 The Best Interview Questions to Hire Only the Elites 4 How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed 5 15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

Advertising

Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

Advertising

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

Advertising

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

Advertising

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

Read Next