Go Talk to Strangers

Did your parents or teachers teach you not to talk to strangers?

Many of the instructions meant to keep us safe as children don’t always translate to good advice when we are adults.

For the past four months, the same concerns seem to arise. In almost every presentation and coaching session, people have told me they do not like to network and/or feel For the past four months, the same concerns seem to arise about reconnecting. In almost every presentation and coaching session, people have told me they do not like to network, hate making small talk and feel uncomfortable meeting strangers.

Have you heard people talk about not wanting to network?

What are their good reasons for holding back on meeting someone new and having a discussion?

Perhaps the isolation caused by the pandemic and our new virtual communications prevent us from wanting to reach out. OR we may be out of practice. Better yet, maybe we don’t want to change out of our yoga pants and comfy shoes to dress in business clothes again.

More likely the obstacles are the ones that Peggy Collins and I discussed in our passport to success Network Smart. People avoid connecting to others for several reasons. They feel shy or unworthy, worry they won’t be able to return the favor, or want to avoid revealing vulnerability and others’ negative opinions.

Many people who are reluctant to reach out claim they do not know what to say, do not want to disturb other people, and fear they might be rejected.

Have you held yourself back from asking for help or an opportunity?

About one/third of the more than 1,000 professionals we researched for my Ask Outrageously book said they watched a big opportunity go to someone else because they failed to ask for it.

Self-limiting thoughts get in the way of valuable connections and insight. Almost any information to achieve a goal can be obtained through networking. You might be seeking:

  • Financial advice or funding.
  • A job or career direction.
  • An excellent vendor or resource.
  • Introductions to specific organizations or people.
  • An expert or business advice.
  • New people to grow your network.
  • Referrals to any goal.

What networking tips do you have to help someone overcome their reluctance?

What do you tell yourself when you see yourself avoiding a discussion or event?

It is difficult to negotiate and ask for what you really want if you are reluctant to network and talk to strangers. This month, I challenge you to go to an event with a purpose or challenge you are trying to solve. For example, “I’m going to meet someone in my industry,” “I’m going to ask people what they’ve tried regarding this issue,” or “I’m going to ask people about the benefits they received in this association.” Just look for a friendly face or someone standing alone. Then, ask questions and stay curious. That’s it! Go talk to strangers. 

In my next post, I’ll give you some ideas on how to connect powerfully in a way that is safe, genuine, and provides value.

Go Negotiate What Matters!

Linda PS If you or your team need help showing up and communicating powerfully, just ask. Through coaching and/or my engaging programs, most people find that networking works and can even be fun when done well!