While at an event recently I was speaking to someone and wondering why they were so apprehensive about interacting with individuals they don’t know. What makes them so uncomfortable? Are people nervous about making the first move? Do they fear rejection?
Then I began to think about how we are taught to interact with people from a young age and remembered that we are taught that Strangers are Dangerous and we should stay away from them at all cost. I wonder if these teachings have had a negative effect on how we as adults now interact with each other. As we get older we are expected to be more open to meeting new people but the stranger danger thoughts are still present in our subconscious. We are always weary of people’s intentions, are they out for my best interest? are they using me? can I trust this person? And this anxiety is what causes us to hesitate when in a new environment around new people because we are not completely sure if the interaction will be a negative or a positive.
Some say just go out on a limb what is the worst that can happen, but reflecting on what we we’re taught when we’re younger many things can happen if you speak to a stranger, you can get kidnapped, killed etc. but never are you taught that an interaction with a stranger could be positive. So as adults we know have to train ourselves to think of these interaction as positive and as a new opportunity to open doors for ourselves. Honestly I think the best thing is to Just Do It, not to be cliche but the only way to conquer your fear is to jump in so that you can see what the result will be. Create a plan and set a goal for yourself the next time you go out to enhance your networking skills.
- Set a goal to try to interact with at least 3 people
- Engage in a conversation with them about anything (many people think when networking you must talk about business, my best connections came from shooting the sh*t or personal interest that we connected on
- Be sure if you are interested to obtain everyone’s contact information that you interacted with
- Follow up with them within the week and possibly set up another time to meet-up or get together
These simple steps will help you build a relationship and assist with the negative stigma of meeting a stranger.