Tip: Talk to Strangers

Who is that person slouched next to you in the plane? You look at their hair, their clothes, their age, their gender and make an assessment. There are a hundred reason for connecting, or not.
  1. They may be from a different country and you would love to know more about that country. After all, you are a traveler yourself.
  2. They look tired and may want to sleep. You don't want to interrupt.
  3. They are reading the kind of book you hate - so you are wondering what makes someone who reads that kind of book tick.
  4. They are reading your favourite book and you want to know whether they fall into the camp of those that love it, or those that hate it (I've had a private poll on Annie Proulx's The Accordion Crimes for years).
  5. They may be from your country and you are longing to speak your own language.
  6. You may be about to go to their country and you want some good inside tips on shows to visit.
  7. Something tells you he won't bite your head off if you address a comment to him.
  8. They may be coming back from a big adventure and wouldn't it be fun to find out what that was!
  9. You can't help but be excited about finding out what makes this person great.
  10. You would love to know what this person is proud of, in her life or in his work.
  11. You know that people love talking about themselves and you love to listen, so the combination is perfect.
  12. And many more...
I traveled to London this week, for a weekend. In a split second I sized up the man I sat next to and briefly thought he looked tired, but decided to risk annoying him. After all, I was sure he was not the kind of person to bite off my head. Something about him said he was worth talking to, and I was curious.

By the end of the flight I knew what he loves about his work, what he is proud of, and found out that his values and my values blend well. That is downright exciting! And to top it all off  he also had some good tips for where I should go in London.

As we landed, we exchanged emails and, now we are both back in Amsterdam, we are planning to meet and find out more about each other's business. My intention is to create a great connection, based on merit and respect.

Whatever happens, this connection is good for business.

The secret to networking is to be really interested in what the other people are up to, in what makes them great, and so see what mutual benefit can be had from creating a relationship.

Lin McDevitt-Pugh
Lin McDevitt-Pugh is founder of NetSHEila, a company bringing fun, freedom and ease to the business of building value-driven companies. One of our core values is acknowledging the networks of people around us as central to our success. Write to admin@netsheila.com to start looking at how we can work together.

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