Our parents told us “Don’t talk to Strangers”.  As a child, prudent advice.  But as an adult, does this fear of strangers stay with us?  What about the strangers I know who met on a train and Stranger 1 finds out that Stranger 2 is the Procurement Director of one her prime prospects? Or one of my running friends who meets another runner in the woods.  They take a break and talk and within 2 years, they have done more than £0.5 million pounds of business with each other.  Strangers can be good for business, so here’s a few tips to make you meet more strangers.

1. Fear.  Within you, there’s probably nervousness associated with going into an environment that involves meeting new people.  That’s ok, fear or trepidation is good as it heightens your mind to be prepared.  But equally, don’t let the fearful thoughts becoming all consuming.  Allow the thoughts to develop, process them, and then move on.

2. Manage your expectations.  You want your new interactions to be memorable and impactful.  But sometimes, the strangers you want to talk to will intimidate you.  Honestly, everyone can feel intimidated, but what have you got to lose?  Tell yourself you’ll enjoy it, and set yourself nothing too audacious to achieve.  “I’m going to come away with one good meeting from this.”  Then next time, you might be able to make that a couple.  That said, never let the target of “meeting x number of people” distract you from having meaningful conversations in which you take time to listen.

3. Avoidance tactics.  The introversion part of your brain will try to deter you, getting you to to check your phone, read the agenda, take a call, or turn up late.  But all of this avoidance is an opportunity missed.  Miss the chance to meet new connections and you’ll then chastise yourself for avoiding it!  Get yourself in a state which stops the distractions from letting you focus on the important issue – being 100% in the moment to meet people.

4.  Remoteness.  Not meeting people creates a feeling of remoteness.  By not interacting with people it can lead to depression, and feelings of exclusion.  Not exactly great motivators for business!  In today’s technological age we get information from so many sources but getting it from other people is more impactful.  I expect you can recall a story about something significant that happened to someone when they told you about it much more accurately than something you read on your news feed this morning?

So how to be better at talking to strangers?

  1. Watch https://www.ted.com/talks/kio_stark_why_you_should_talk_to_strangers
  2. Talk to service people.  Bar tenders, uber drivers, check out people.  Talking to the uber / taxi driver on the way to your “nervous” event will definitely put you in the right mindset.
  3. Just say hello to people. Especially when you hear someone that has something in common with you.  A study by The University of Chicago says it will be better for you!
  4. Ask an intimate question.. (but probably not the first question you ask)“What scares you, what’s on your bucket list?”.  People will find you more interesting, because you ask meaningful questions.
  5. Travel, and go solo. And then get lost, and find people who can help you, not your phone.
  6. Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go, and be in the minority.

So go out there, and meet someone new.

This content is an individual blog written by Tailormade Sales.  The themes reflect a summary of a podcast from the “Art of Charm”.   Go listen. It’s number 711.

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