Real Life Networking

Youth culture. Four young people sitting close to each other and looking at their gadgets

Let’s do a vote. Raise your hand if you see the same three people every morning at Starbucks. Now raise your hand if you have that one person you see at the gym almost everyday, who is always using the machine you want to use. Ok, now raise your hand if you have said a single word to them before.

With our advances in social media, networking & connecting with others has become easier than ever before. Even with this simplicity, we still refuse to acknowledge people we don’t know both in person and online. Why don’t we say hi to each other anymore?! Why are we SO AWKWARD!!

The average person probably visits five to ten different locations in any given day; Starbucks for the morning coffee run, CVS to pick up some extra Advil, work, subway for lunch, the gym, and maybe the gas station on the way home. It’s safe to say that throughout your busy day, you cross paths with over one hundred people you’ve never met before, most of whom you see almost every day without even noticing it.

Imagine how many more connections you would make, and the people you would meet if you simply tapped the guy standing in line in front of you at Starbucks and started a conversation. If you get rejected, you get rejected and you never have to see or speak to them again. The alternative would be you both hit it off and you’ve increased your network of people by one.

Why so Shy??

My boss has lived by this motto for years now. Almost every time he comes into close contact with someone he doesn’t know, he introduces himself and starts a conversation. This is how he met his pilates instructor, the guy he shares his office space with, and so many other people he now considers his friends.

Twitter profile on Apple iPhone 5S

He does the same thing online on social media. Every time he friends someone on Facebook or whenever someone friends him, he messages them and simply says “Hey, saw we are friends on Facebook now! How are you?” (yes, he’s the guy who’s message you deleted yesterday cause you thought he was creepy).

There is this stigma that reaching out to someone you don’t know well online, or even in person is strange and awkward. But isn’t it slightly more awkward to stand behind the same person everyday in line at Starbucks without even acknowledging one another? Or “friending” someone on Facebook and then not ever actually talking to them?

Imagine a world where you knew someone almost everywhere you went, and if you didn’t know anyone you would introduce yourself and then you would know someone there too. Networking in real life and not just online is extremely important not only in business, but in life in general.

I’m not trying to be your mother here telling you to, “shut off your cell phones!!” or “Talk to people in person, not via text!” I’m telling you to use your cell phones! Use your social media to connect with people! Use your cell phone to add the number you just got from the person you met in line at Starbucks and call them!

Go outside your comfort zone and push yourself to meet at least one person every day. Growing your network and making more connections will lead you to success in all aspects of your life. Stop being so socially awkward and let’s get networking!!