When I first began to actively network I was sometimes intimidated by and hesitant to talk to the movers and shakers. No longer. I have since discovered that people in networking who know the rules and are very successful are the people you really need to get to know. In fact, some of the most successful people I know have contributed a large part to my success (Mark Victor Hansen, Tom Hopkins, W. Steven Brown, and others).
When it comes to meeting new people, one of the biggest obstacles for most people is simply building up the courage to approach a stranger and start a conversation. When you’re around accomplished people, be quick to say, “Hello!” Don’t hold back. Introduce yourself to begin the conversation. Make an observation or compliment. Make small talk. Asking questions exhibits a genuine interest in them. It’s also important to know when to shut up.
We are all coming from the same place. Most find it hard to just walk up to a stranger and begin talking. We get anxious and overthink the situation. At first, we are all at least a little nervous. We all wonder where and how we’ll fit in.
Think about how many opportunities you have allowed to pass because you were too slow to make a move to say, “Hello.” You’ll never know what you missed out on unless you put yourself out there. If this is you, it’s high time you step out of your comfort zone.
When is the best time to approach someone you want to know? The answer is: Within the first 3 seconds you see them. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
Have you heard of “The 3-Second Rule?” Originally this concept appeared in a book about how to pick up women. I have found that it works very well when networking too. The rule is simple: When you see someone interesting to talk to, you have three seconds to walk up and say hello. Wait longer and you’ll either overthink it and screw it up or overthink it and never approach. I’ve been there and done that. With only 3 seconds, you don’t have enough time to let anxiety get the best of you. It’s a very simple rule, and extremely effective.
Not sure what to say? It really doesn’t matter. Anything is better than nothing, because it takes you from being a no-name in a sea of faces to being an actual person with a story who had the courage to say hello. I suggest that you ask lots of questions; about them and their business. Determine if there is anything that you can do to help them.
If it’s someone you’ve always wanted to meet, you’ll at least be able to open by thanking them for their work and how it’s impacted you. The 3-Second Rule isn’t just for people you recognize. Use it to talk to anyone and everyone who looks interesting. In the beginning, apply it to everyone you see. It’s just like warming up for a race or big talk. It helps to build your self-confidence and overcome your social anxiety. Do that by saying hello to anyone you can, especially when there’s nothing at stake.
When networking it’s important to view everyone as friends you haven’t met yet. Then simply say, “Hello!”
Larry’s NOTE: A special “Thank you” to Scott Dimsmore for introducing me to “The 3-Second Rule.”
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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