Every day we come in contact with a number of different people. Some interactions are brief and others unexpectedly change the course of our lives. You never know what kind of chance opportunities you may come across when interacting with others. It’s like coming across the secret prize in the classic Cracker Jack boxes – it’s exciting! However, reaping the unexpected rewards of those interactions requires you to actually interact – or open the box and start eating.
But, I Don’t Wanna…
In today’s commercial airline industry, planes are rarely left with any seats available – meaning everyone is packed in like sardines. Depending on the duration of your flight, you are guaranteed to be sitting closely to at least one individual you don’t know for at least one hour. Oftentimes people go into the situation with headphones in ears, books or electronic devices out to make a clear point of “don’t bother me.” But, what if you decided to take opportunity to at least engage a bit? You could be sitting next to a famed athlete, a first-responder with amazing stories, a high profile chef that owns three restaurants in Las Vegas, a popular musician, or an elderly man/woman who can speak to events of the past…the possibilities are endless.
You just never know what might happen when you meet somebody. At times we turn away from such opportunities. “I don’t want to do that,” we tell ourselves. “I don’t want to go out there.” When I was chair of the executive board, I got a call from the Ohio Society staff asking me if I would take three speakers out to dinner who were in town to deliver a seminar the next day on international accounting and global standards.
My gut reaction was that I didn’t really want to do it. “I don’t know these guys,” I told myself, “but I might as well, because you never know.” I told my wife that the dinner was at 6:30 and I’d be home by 8:30 at the latest. However, what I didn’t expect happened: we had a great time. We didn’t know one another from Adam, and yet the comfort was immediate, as if we were old friends. The conversation gelled immediately. We laughed and shared stories until closing time.
It Will Always Pay Off
One of those gentlemen became a client of mine. A nice revenue stream opened. It never would have happened had I shirked away from putting myself out there and doing something not completely in my comfort zone. We all reach that point in time when we ask, “Do I have to go? Do I want to go?” We hem and haw (just like the two characters in Who Moved My Cheese) and risk missing out. I just know that I’m glad that I went to that dinner and met those gentlemen. Not only was it a good time, but it was time well spent.
The clear pathway to business may not always be there and that’s ok. You need to focus on building relationships. You need to step out there, into new territory, and get to know people. That’s what leads to friendships, which are important in themselves. And, of course, friendships often open the door to opportunities. When you shake a hand, start a conversation, you never know where it might lead.
Learn more about how you can more easily and comfortably seize these with the “yes, and…” approach and other improvisation principles in my book, Improv is No Joke.