If you always do what you’ve always done, you’re probably going to get what you’ve always gotten. Job seekers and other people with vision or ambition can’t afford to waste a moment of their travels. Even the ordinary commute can be changed-up to increase the potential for a positively life-changing connection.
Two little rules: Take out your ear buds and make eye contact. And, one biggie: practice a ready hello and a simple greeting that telegraphs you are friendly.
Mine is: “Hello and how is your day going?” That’s my personal take on my number one most recommended trigger talk for people who want to expand their network. If you’re not familiar with my communication system, I help people develop lots of simple, easy to remember bits of conversation so the toughest things in life are on automatic. Like meeting new people.
Trigger talk is something you choose to say that’s natural for you. In this instance, it’s a simple question that’s all loaded up in my brain’s “Look: a new person!” file. That’s what I mean about a phrase being “on a trigger.” The sight of a new person triggers my brain to do a specific sequence, no decisions (hence no hesitation).
When I see a new person, I have an overpowering, reflexive mechanism that makes my eyes smile, and pops these words out of my mouth:
“Hello and how is your day going?”
Trigger talk can get a lot more complicated. In presentations, you may have whole portions of product knowledge or success stories on trigger.
But, this greeting is the fundamental building block of communication. It works to increase your network. It’s not amazing, difficult or otherwise expert-level communication.
I thought a lot about the power of my greeting, and what I want people to know about me right away. With my greeting, I’m telegraphing a little kindness, a little curiosity and a little openness (all parts of my personal brand). Once you like your greeting, practice it by saying it aloud; imagining the everyday situations where you find yourself with strangers. The grocery store. The train. The walk with your dog. A new lunch place. You get the idea.
Your greeting is like your business card; it should reflect your brand.
Go where you have not been before. Greet.
I’ve had all kinds of people answer me. Some famous, some less famous and some went on to become my clients, employers, employees, investors, partners, vendors and friends.
It’s always enlightening when they respond with some specific details about their day. At that moment, my job is to just listen. My brain is trained to check its file cabinets to see if I’ve got anything stored that connects with what they’re saying. Sometimes, I don’t. So my follow-up trigger talk pops out, typically one of three choices. “Wow, that’s a lot.” “Wow, I’m glad to hear it.” Or “Wow, I’m sorry it’s not a great day.” That “wow” gives my brain time to process what I’ve heard, so the right thing comes out of my mouth.
About 20% of the time, I hear something that sounds like a good tidbit that a colleague, client or my company might want to interact on. I’ve heard:
“I just made my first big sale!”
“This commute is killing me. I’m thinking of getting a helicopter.”
“I need to spend less time eating and more time getting back into shape.”
That’s three potential leads for three different business people I know. A “wow” plus one or two more sentences: and we exchange contact information.
How can you implement this today? If you normally take the 8:15 train, take the 7:50. If you work at home, pick another destination for your travels. Walk to the far end of the biggest park, or traverse 10 big city blocks and get on a bus to make it back home. Get your bagel at a different stand.
No matter what else is going right or wrong in your life and career: know this. Everyday you have the opportunity to say the one thing that can change your life.
You can always create the opportunity to meet someone new. Do it five times a day, and my odds say you’ll have one new contact worth pursuing, profiting from or perhaps referring and (earning good deeds points).
Take the long cut.