Nice to Meet You! 3 Keys to Meeting New People

16 Oct Nice to Meet You! 3 Keys to Meeting New People

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Well, hello. It’s nice to meet you. Welcome to DREAM THINK DO. I will admit, I don’t typically kick off the podcast saying it’s nice to meet you. Although I do believe that it is nice to meet you. I use it, though, today for a couple of reasons. One, again, to reinforce, hey, it’s nice to meet you, especially if this is the first time listening to DREAM THINK DO. I’m so glad you’re here. If you’re a longtime DREAM THINK DO-er, and/or if we’ve met before, welcome back. I’m glad you’re here. Secondly, I say nice to meet you because that, in fact, is the theme of this show. That’s right. This particular episode, this deep dive, is all about strategies for helping you meet someone new.

Because it happens.

You know, maybe you’re wanting to meet new people because you’re wanting some awesome people in your life, some new good friends to try stuff with, or great people to connect with professionally, or you want to learn from cool people doing cool stuff, then awesome.

Or maybe you need to meet some new people because you want to expand your network, or you’re exploring new jobs or new careers, or you’re entering into a new era or a new organization. And maybe you’re feeling like a stranger in a strange land and you’re wanting to find some like-minded people around you. That’s where we’re headed.

I will say if you’re an extrovert, stay tuned. These concepts are going to help you. I can tell you I lean a little bit towards the introvert. If you’re an introvert, you know what I’m talking about. I appreciate meeting new people. But as an introvert who’s learned to do extroverted things, I always have to revisit my tool chest, so I can maximize the opportunities as I’m meeting new people because yes, God’s great sense of humor is that my day job as an extrovert involves meeting new people all the time.

So I need the tools that we’re going to talk about today. These tools will help you to connect with people, to feel more comfortable, and to be able to put others at ease as well. This will greatly, even wildly, increase the chances for conversations with the kinds of people that you want to connect with.

Let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say you’re walking down a hallway, you’re walking towards the door. Behind that door, you know, is a room filled with people. You don’t know most of them. How are you feeling? Are you excited at that thought? Are you smiling at that thought? If that’s you, cool. That probably means you are an extrovert. That’s great. Some of these strategies are going to help you. They’re going to help you love people well, love those conversations that you’re having, and take them to new heights. So stay tuned.

But let me check back in here. Let’s revisit this scenario hallway. Double doors at the end, big meeting space on the other side. You’re hearing a dull roar of people talking. How are you doing thinking about this? Are you freaking out inside just a little bit? Are you throwing up just a little bit? Maybe some part of you wants to walk away from that room. You have emails to check, a book to read, Office is back on Netflix. You just started your favorite episode. Right?

Whichever way you respond, hang with me here because the things we’re going to talk about today are going to be tools that help no matter where you’re at on that spectrum. Introvert, extrovert, ambivert. That’s that new category in the middle. Wherever you’re at, we’re going to get you some strategies to help.

Meeting new people can be exciting. It can be amazing. It can also be a little nerve-wracking, but it’s important. No matter what, it’s important because we can’t go after our dreams alone. We can’t live a rich and full life without meeting new people, without building relationships, right?

We’re going to break down this topic into three categories. I’m going to offer you an acronym. The acronym is CHR. C stands for Curious, H stands for Honor, and R stands for Remember. That’s our roadmap. Let’s break it down.

Curious. So here’s the thing. In meeting new people, and really in life, I got a piece of advice as a teenager and it’s probably one of the all-time, most important best pieces of advice that I ever received in my lifetime. It was offered to me by my first boss, my mentor through most of my teen years and my early twenties. His name was Marty Done, who owned the bike shop that I worked at. I’ve shared this little piece of advice on previous episodes, but it’s so worth revisiting, especially when it comes to meeting new people. The wisdom is simply, “Be interested, not interesting.” That’s it. Be interested, not interesting.

Think about it. Most people, if they’re feeling anxiousness about walking into a room of new people, a crowd of strangers, a big part of the nervousness comes from people wondering, “Will people like me? Will people find me interesting? Will I be accepted?” You may not be asking yourself those questions and if so, congratulations, because most people on the planet had been wrestling with these questions since the dawn of time. So if you’re free from that, good for you. That is so awesome. But if you still wrestle with any of those questions, either consciously or maybe even subconsciously, I want to offer this as your new mantra, especially as you’re meeting new people: Be Interested, not interesting.

Now, how does that work? I’m guessing that you’re already ahead of me on this, right?  But let me ask you this. What is anybody’s favorite subject? Go ahead and say it out loud. Or don’t if you’re in public somewhere.

Most people’s favorite subject is in fact, of course, themselves, right? They love to talk about themselves. They love it. If somebody is genuinely interested, someone sees them and actually acknowledges them, that is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone. So focus on being interested, being genuinely curious. As you are, the irony is that you become the most interesting person in the room. As you meet someone for the first time or even the hundredth time, be interested. Put the focus on that other person. Ask questions, show interest. As you do, the tension level will go down for you and for them.

What’s fun is that one of the best ways to be interested, one of the best ways to be curious is to ask questions. Now I know you guys are smart. I love the DREAM THINK DO family. I asked you guys what are some of your go-to questions for meeting new people, some curiosity-inspiring questions. And you guys shared some awesome questions with me so I’m going to go through some of my favorites because it’s nice. It’s nice to have some go to questions. Now, sometimes you can just simply start with some of the basics: “So where are you from? What do you do? What do you love to do?” Some of those basics are great. They’re go-to questions. But sometimes it’s nice to mix things up, right? Put a couple of new tools in the toolbox.

We got some funny ones. Jeremy Bauman, one of his favorites is, “What are you passionate about?” But he also loves to ask, and I think this was a joke, “Are Hootie and the Blowfish your favorite band, too?” Patrick Albanese, now I will say Patrick, in full disclosure, is a comedian. He is literally an actor and a stand standup comedian. He is hilarious. He said his favorite go-to question for meeting somebody new is, “Hey, don’t you owe me 20 bucks?” He said, “This really nice because it helps to break the ice,” and he’s made 40 bucks so far. I don’t necessarily recommend using these questions, but I laughed out loud as I read them. So, I had to share them with you.

Sometimes simple is best.  So Laurel Ferrell as an example, longtime DREAM THINK DO-er from beautiful Missoula, Montana. One of her favorite questions is, “So what brought you to Missoula?” And she said it brings some of the best stories, some of the craziest tales, as you can imagine. So, “What brought you here?” can be a great start to a rich conversation.

Now, Shelly Mana brought up a great one. Some of you DREAM THINK DO-ers are asking some deep questions and we’ll get to some of those. And sometimes deep questions are great. Big questions are great. But Shelly said that she prefers to keep it a little bit more simple, especially in the beginning. She said, “I find asking the big questions like, what’s your passion?” She said, “Those kinds of things are better if you have a little connection with the person, if you have a little rapport if you have a little relationship.” So she says, “I like to start small. Usually with a quick compliment, like, I love your shoes. Where’d you get them?” She says just giving them a compliment and asking them a little bit about that can make a big difference.

I am a huge fan of this strategy. In fact, I teach a workshop on networking for introverts and I really do believe in this strategy. I say look for symbols and signs because a lot of times, people put out symbols. They wear symbols and signs that let you know, “Hey, I want to be known.” Whether it’s a lapel pin that they’ve got or maybe it’s a logo on their briefcase or their bag or their jacket. So I’m always watching for things like that to be able to ask them, what’s the pin? What’s that for? Or the logo, maybe it’s for a school or maybe it’s for a brand that you share an affiliation with or an affection for, that kind of thing.

Or maybe you’re meeting somebody for the first time, but you’re meeting in their office. Watch for the photos. Maybe they’ve got a family photo or a vacation photo or some sort of photo of an achievement. They’re putting those things out there because they want the world to know them, right? And even the most private a person, if they’re putting a picture like that out to be able to ask, “Hey, what’s the story behind that picture? That’s an amazing picture. That’s a great picture.” Getting them talking about themselves is a great gift. It’s truly being curious as truly being interested.

Now, Tim Sanders, who’s a DREAM THINK DO guest, one of his go-to questions, he loves asking people: “So what are you working on that you’re excited about?” I like that one, too. That’s a great one to get them talking.

Sometimes people might have some stories they can share right away. Corey Stapke put a little different twist on that. What he loves to do is to ask a question like that, “What are you excited about? What are you doing? What’s new and exciting?” But he said the key is asking follow up questions.  Because follow up questions show that you’re truly listening.

We’ve all been asked a question, and after we get done saying something, the other person just rushes on to THEIR next topic. But if you truly want to be curious, if you truly want to be interested, ask some follow up questions, “Tell me more about that?” or “How’d you get interested in that?”

Or as Felicia Slattery, who was a previous DREAM THINK DO guest as well, loves to ask, “How’d you get started doing that?” You know, whether it’s a hobby, whether it’s a job, whether it’s a sport, how’d you get started with that? She loves to ask those kinds of questions.

Some other questions that came in: Julie Richards loves movies so she likes to ask, “Hey, what’s a great movie you’ve been to lately? What’s a movie that’s really that you’ve connected with?” Or you could ask about a book they’ve read. Jim Mayhew recently had a gentleman at his church, come up and ask him, “What’s, what have you been learning this week? What’s something you’ve been learning this week?” And he said it was a great question. It kind of caught them off guard, but he said it sparked this amazing conversation and actually helped him celebrate a lot of what he had been learning that week.

Eric Rennerneck has a twist on a good kind of common question. Eric asks, “Where’s home for you?” He said that this is a deeper question than “where are you from?” He said that it’s generated some great, great conversations because you wind up getting into these origin stories. Like, “Well, I live here, but home to me has always been blank, you know?” Or, “Growing up home was always blank.” He said he just loves to see where conversations go.

Patrick Johnson asks, “What lights up your soul?” I know Patrick, Patrick can pull off that question because man, he is curious. He is interested. If you love a question like that, if you think you can pull it off, go for it.

Krista Anderson Beeler asks, “What do you love to do? What do you do in life that brings you joy?” Ava Diamond, she shortened that up. “What brings you joy? What’s something you really enjoy?” Christie Ellis, who is a big fan of Bob Burg, as am I. Bob’s been on DREAM THINK DO a number of times. She pointed to Bob’s ten feel-good questions that he references in his book Endless Referrals, you can actually get all of those questions at bobburg.com, but some of his are, you know, “What’s something you really enjoy about your job? What’s something you really enjoy about your profession?” Or, “What advice would you give someone who’s just starting out in fill in the blank.”

So those are some questions. Maybe some of them are questions you already have in your toolbox. Maybe some of them are twists or new questions. I hope that’s the case.

Use those questions to be curious because that’s one of the best ways to engage someone. Showing that genuine curiosity takes the pressure off you, and in a way takes the pressure off the other person too.

Alright, that was step one. Step one is to be curious. Step two is to honor. Now, this may or may not be obvious. If you’re a DREAM THINK DO-er I’m guessing this is something that comes naturally to you, but I can tell you, being intentional about honoring others has been so crucial for me, especially as I want to authentically show curiosity and as I want to connect with others. I love what Nobel Peace Prize-winning author and poet Hermann Hesse, once said, “It is not our purpose to become each other. It is in fact to recognize each other, to see each other, to learn to see the other, and to honor him for what he is.” I know that’s deep, right? But it’s true. We need to honor a person’s stories, to honor their opinions, their beliefs.

Oftentimes, somebody that I interact with, their beliefs, their opinions, their stories may be dramatically different than mine. But if I make the decision to honor those, there’s a much better chance that I’ll really get to know the person and connect with them. There’s a much better chance that they’ll actually honor me and get to know me.

I’ll give you an example and I know I’m stepping into it now, right? But religion. Religion. Religion can be a taboo subject for a lot of people, especially when they’re meeting somebody new. Now, and let me clarify. I am not suggesting you talk religion as an ice-breaker.

I think sometimes we get so worried that we might disagree, or get into uncomfortable territory, that we shut down. We don’t ask good questions and keep it really surface level. There’s no real connection. When people are in a surface conversation like that, they don’t feel like they can really connect.

But if you honor someone, when honor comes into the conversation, it changes things. It changes the equation. So again, for example, I have had some of the most fascinating conversations with people who hold very different opinions and beliefs than I do. But by honoring their story and being genuinely curious, it puts everyone at ease. Now, I want to be clear. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re shrinking. It doesn’t mean you need to diminish your own views. Nope, not at all. But when you are genuine, authentically interested in a person’s perspective, their story, how they came to their beliefs, it’s amazing what that can do for a conversation.

Now again, it’s not always going to happen in those first conversations. Most people don’t go to their deepest held beliefs, necessarily, in those first conversations. You might be having a conversation with somebody and you move into some of those more kind of touchy conversations; politics, sports, different beliefs, important stuff like whether you consider Die Hard one of the best Christmas movies ever made, which it is.

I’m not suggesting you always walk into these subjects, but if you know how you’re going to be able to handle that conversation, it allows you to navigate any conversation with a whole lot more peace, a whole lot more comfort, a whole lot more actual anticipation. I used to worry about talking to somebody that held very different beliefs than I have. But when I started to understand this honoring thing when I started to make it important, like a core value for me, that’s when I started to let go of the concern over differing opinions. I moved into honoring in true curiosity to be able to say, “Gosh, tell me more about that. Tell me more about how you arrived at that.” And it’s been amazing at how the connections have started to happen, and real conversations have come from it. And so I encourage you on that.

Here are some other quick tips on honoring: You can also honor somebody by your body language. To be able to turn and really look at someone, giving them your attention. Receiving attention from somebody is such a rare thing, right? Where there are no distractions, where you’re not looking at your phone, you’re not scanning the room, all of those things. We’ve all had that conversation with that person who’s scanning the room and definitely gives you the feeling that they’re just looking for the next person to talk to, right?

Giving someone your full attention is such a gift and in today’s day and age, again, it’s such a rare thing. It truly feels like a gift.

When it comes to honoring others, there is a quote I saw once attributed to Maya Angelou. I’ve not seen it attributed to other people too, but it’s a great thought, whoever said it: “Keep in mind that every single person that you meet is fighting a battle we probably know nothing about.”

Every person we meet, every person we interact with somehow, somewhere deep down inside is fighting a battle that we probably are not aware of. Some people that you meet are just immediately awesome and delightful right from the start. But some people you meet do not give off that vibe the first time around. And I’ll be the first one to say that I’m more prone to follow up and build relationships with people who are delightful immediately, like people who are compelling, people who are interested in engaging all of that.

But when I really give it some thought, I think about some of my richest, deepest relationships have come from some initial meetings with people that were far from stellar. You know what I mean? People that initially maybe they were having a bad day, a bad month, a bad year, whatever, when I met them. But because I stayed curious, because I tried to honor them the best I could and I got to know them better, something amazing came out of it. So to be able to honor someone is to really show them respect and oftentimes they’ll return that respect.

So be curious, honor the person, and the last step is to remember. And we’re going to cover this pretty quickly, but it’s important because it remembering something makes a difference.

Now, full confession here, I am not great at naturally remembering people’s names. I know some people that really are. And I know other people that have really worked on that as a skill.  If you’re not, here’s the thing; if you really want to connect with a person, start by remembering their name.

Now, Adam Carroll, who’s also a multiple time DREAM THINK DO guest is amazing at this. And he gave me just a super helpful and Ninja-like strategy. It’s almost a Jedi-like strategy for remembering people’s names. He said the key is when you first meet them, make sure you hear their name right by repeating it. “So Sarah, is it Sarah? It’s so nice to meet you, Sarah.” So here’s the thing you said, repeat their name. “So Sarah, it’s nice to meet you.” So you’re, you’re saying their name a couple of times, so that. And then over the course of that conversation, say the person’s name one or two more times, without it being creepy. If it’s a really short conversation, don’t try to work in four times saying their name, but if you’re talking with a person over the course of a minute or two, try to work in their name three or four times.

Sometimes I’ll even just let people know what I’m doing. I’ll say, “I want to let you know that I’m really working on trying to remember people’s names. I really think that that’s valuable. And one of the things that I’ve found is by repeating the person’s name three or four times when I first meet them, it really helps to cement their name and my memory.” So again, if I feel like I’m bordering on creepy or weird or whatever, I will confess that’s what I’m doing. But for others, I can keep it pretty nonchalant.

But here’s the thing, again, just repeat their name three to four times within that initial conversation, there’s a much greater chance you’ll be able to remember their name for a much longer time.

Here’s another quick tip, especially if you’re at conferences. Let’s just say you’re at a conference, and you’re meeting people and you’re exchanging business cards. What I like to do, and maybe you’ve heard this before, but these are a couple of specific things. After a quick conversation, what I love to do is as quickly as I can without it being weird, I like to take that person’s business card and write two or three quick bullet points on their business card so that I can remember. The bullet point might be what they do, or it might be a conversation we had about their kids or a passion that they have, something they’re doing, something they want to do. Maybe it’s even, let’s say a book came up and we talked about a shared passion or something like that. Just something that will allow me to remember that. So that when I reached back out to follow up with them, it’s that much easier.

Now here’s one more, and this one I have to admit, I can’t remember who shared this strategy with me. So if it’s you, please leave a comment, take credit for it. But when you’re at a conference especially, or you’re getting a bunch of business cards all at once, make those notes to yourself, but on the ones where you really want to follow up with a person, maybe there’s something you committed to or something you’re really intrigued by or maybe they’re a potential business connection for you, or maybe you just really enjoy the conversation and you want to keep that going, With that business card just fold the corner down on that business card.

If you get to the end of the day and you go back to your hotel room, as an example, and boom, you drop all of these business cards. The ones that have that folded corner are going to pop out, literally sometimes, but they’ll really stand out to say, “Okay, of all of these people I connected with, these three are people I want to follow up with.” And then take action on that. Follow up with them right away. If you committed to doing something, follow up with them on that. If you just want to say, “Hey, it was great to meet you. I really enjoyed the conversation we had about our kids.” Those kinds of things, those specifics really help to cement new relationships and build new friendships and potential partnerships in life.

So that was a lot for a simple little acronym such as CHR. So be curious. Be genuinely curious. Honor people as you get to know them. Whether you hold the same beliefs or not, honor their story, honor where they came from, honor their perspective and there’s a very good chance that they will honor you as well. And Trust me, it’s a whole lot more fun if you take that approach. And then lastly, remember. Find some different strategies. Find some different ways to remember someone and give them that gift of remembering their name or something that came up in your conversation. And oh my gosh, you can change things dramatically and help you to build the relationships, more of the relationships that you want to have in your life.

I hope all this helps and if it does, please share it. And Hey, I want to hear from you. What are some of your favorite questions to ask? What are some of your favorite tricks for remembering a person? I’d love to hear from you.

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