Every day we meet strangers either online or in person and each of these “chance encounters” can positively impact our career and life trajectory.
Chance encounter –
“A meeting with an individual, especially one that is unplanned or unexpected”
If you need to find an answer to a question, want a new job or are looking to get ahead in your career embrace chance encounters. Everyone you meet has information that is valuable. If you take the time to participate, listen and ask questions you will learn a great deal from others. When someone talks to you on a plane, bus or park bench – see this as an opportunity. When at an event or party talk to people you do not know. If someone reaches out to you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter engage in an online conversation.
It is no wonder that many individuals are frightened of chance encounters or talking to people they do not know. Most of us from a very young age have been told “Don’t talk to strangers”. Yes this might have been good advice when we were five years old, but with common sense as an adult chance encounters are an opportunity that can positively impact our career and life. Our connections are critical in helping us solve problems and discovering new information.
Clients will say to me…
“But it is hard” (Yes, but if you start now – it will make life easier in the end)
“It is fake” (Instead think about it as altruism – I help you and maybe you might help me in the future)
“It takes time” (Yes, indeed, but it is an investment for the future)
“I don’t know what to say” (Practice – it gets easier the more you do it)
“But what if they don’t want to talk to me?” (So what – Their loss and move on)
“Why would they want to talk to me” (People like talking about themselves – ask questions and listen)
Why bother? Every job opportunity that I have had was due to taking the time to talk to individuals I did not know and using chance encounters as an opportunity. You never know how the person sitting next to you might positively impact your life now or in the future.
For example, just yesterday I began talking to the person sitting next to me in a hotel lounge. What I learned was that she was a real estate agent in Miami. This was helpful since I am currently investigating different neighborhoods in Miami to live. In return I was able to give her advice on using social media for her career. Both of us learned a great deal and this wouldn’t have happened without embracing the opportunity of a chance encounter.
I encourage you to use chance encounters as an opportunity to connect and learn from others. You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help, share ideas and information. Think of every person you meet as a learning opportunity. Yes making new connections takes time, but if you can spare a few minutes of your day to gather information from others it can be beneficial in so many different ways.