Meet and Greet
Crowded parties, fashion shows, yoga festivals, weekly community meetings… whatever you attend there is always an opportunity to meet new people. The funny thing is that once you head out into the world to events that interest you, there is a good chance that your new BFF might be sitting right next to you. All you have to do is say hello to start what could be one of the most important connections of your life.
In the land of business the very human act of meeting and greeting others is called ‘networking’. Networking is something that is very common in all areas of our lives and is usually highly promoted practice. The sad thing is that the term ‘Networking’ often brings about mental images of suited fat-cats drinking whisky, smoking cigars, and hanging out in sports bars wheeling and dealing. As someone who shares the dislike of this term, author of the book ‘Quiet’, Susan Cain has coined a term for networking that most of us sustainability loving types would be quite happy using. When we network we are really looking for our tribe or as Cain puts it, our ‘kindred spirits’. While it can seem a little strategic and ruthless to hunt through crowds of strangers with a business card in hand looking for your next target, the act of aligning ones self with likeminded folk is a very natural and important sustainability minded process. There is strength in numbers and the more members in your tribe the closer you will get to reaching your joint world changing goals!
But I’m a bit new to the idea of meeting kindred spirits!
Never mind if you are a little new to the idea of meeting new people. Striking up conversation can be a little scary, even for those who are used to dealing with new folks. Firstly its important to look at why new connections can be beneficial. Every time we meet another we have the opportunity to learn something new. As long as we are using the ‘new age’ style term of kindred spirits lets look at some new age philosophy. Dr. Richard Carlson has a great tip in his book ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ that works well for meeting new people without judgement:
Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you.
If you take this advice on board you can approach every conversation with another as an opportunity to find out what this person has to offer you on your knowledge path. By taking this approach even people who would seem incredibly unappealing to you normally (even those who are obnoxious or rude) can become teachers of life lessons rather than sources of irritation. When I worked frontline retail I was often forced to take the brunt of customers ‘bad days’. While it’s not easy to be yelled at when you know you have done nothing wrong I would always try my hardest to work out what I could take away from the situation. Often it would be a sense of hope that by being someone else’s stress release that they may go home to their loved ones relaxed. Far better that they yell at me than their children or spouse.
Sometimes these enlightened others that you meet may just be more than a personal life lesson, they may be a new kindred spirt! When this happens you feel the wheels of the universe click into action, conversation flowing, and suddenly you are taken on a joint journey towards a shared vision.
But how can I get the conversation started?
It can be pretty intimidating to meet and greet others. Especially if you happen to be a bit of an introvert. Fortunately there some great tips our there for getting yourself into the mix. The first thing to remember is to be authentic. This sounds great in theory but can sometimes be a difficult thing to do in stressful situations. Who can forget that moment when Ross from Friends, a normally confident and opinionated science guy, takes his first palaeontology lecture and accidentally puts on a British accent. We all have had moments in life where we may not have been as authentic as we would like to be due to nerves. Brené Brown offers the following tips from her Huffington Post article on how to keep yourself as authentic as possible in stressful situations.
- Write yourself a permission slip to be yourself. Often we are forced by the social or organisational norms to behave a certain way. Brown suggests that keeping a permission slip note in your pocket to behave like yourself can aid in helping you behave like yourself even in the most intimidating situations.
- Develop a list of songs that bring you back to you! This would be a handy one to have before and event where you are required to do public speaking.
- Learn how to say no and yes. It can be easy to agree with others, especially in social situations when you are aiming to ‘people please’. However it is just as important to stay true to yourself and saying ‘no’ to doing things you really don’t agree with, and ‘yes’ to new opportunities.
When chatting to others there is one simple technique for getting the conversation rolling. This technique is one commonly used in retail sales and it’s often referred to as ‘cherry-picking’. Like the term ‘networking’, cherry-picking sounds a little like you are trying to ‘get something’ from the other person rather than connect on an energetic level. So I like to look at cherry picking as the art of moving beyond the superficial. Often conversations move through the natural progression of ‘what do you do’, ‘where do you live’, ‘what do you own’, ‘do you have children/ a partner/ pets’… etc. Generally this type of conversation is tedious, superficial, and boring. To go a little deeper all you have to do is listen with your eyes and ears. You can ask these initial questions but to take the conversation to a new depth look for ‘cherries’ in the persons answers. Perhaps they look a little despondent when talking about their current line of work. You can subtly guide the conversation to new depths by asking them about their hobbies, and seeing what lights up their face with passion. Before you know it, that person you meet at seemingly boring function about company profit margins for your partners business, has turned into a full blown discussion about ocean plastics because your new kindred spirit is an avid surfer who hates seeing plastic in the ocean. This new kindred spirit swaps details with you and invites you to a beach clean up happening the following weekend. Suddenly the following week you have ten new kindred spirits! And it’s all as easy as paying attention when conversing and allowing others to share their passions with you.
It’s not working…
When things don’t seem to be happening it can be a little disappointing. You can start to doubt yourself, your conversation skills, and even the purpose of your life. The inability to find your kindred spirits could be something as simple as the places you are looking. If you are interested in carbon neutral transport but find yourself at car racing events there is a good chance that this could be the reason your not finding the right people do some research! Generally you should head off to new events with an open mind (even if they are opposed to your sustainability goals). As a carbon neural travel enthusiast you might just get some great life lessons from those who oppose your view at a car racing event even if you don’t find your tribe in the process. If you are interested in sustainability and fashion go to an ethical fashion event. This is the best way to meet people who might just be a potential kindred spirit. It is best to get an idea about who might be attending before you go to see if there might be people or brands that align with your personal values and mission in life. You can look up what brands are showing that may interest you, check social media to see who has been promoting the event and work out if anyone you know, or would like to know are attending. Spending this little bit of background check time can help guide you in the right direction on the night of the event. This is especially important for people who are introverted because having an idea about who you are talking to before you start talking can take that scary edge or element of surprise away from meeting new people.
If you feel like you are doing all these things right but still can’t meet the right people it might be time to look in the mirror. Are you feeling ok about yourself? Are you at peace with yourself? If you aren’t feeling ok with you there is a good chance that this is the reason why others don’t feel at ease around you. Baptist De Pape author of ‘The Power of the Heart‘ offers these following tips to hep you embrace yourself and appreciate your perfection and imperfection.
- Create the intention to trust your heart implicitly.
- Be grateful for being the person you are. Appreciate your strengths and talents.
- Develop you skills and talents, out of which will come self-confidence and happiness. If you have a real feeling of doing or making something, pursue that, work on it, and improve it.
- Be kind to yourself. Make it a habit to articulate positive thoughts about yourself, so that everything you do is supported by the universe. Stop saying negative things about yourself.
- Do an act of kindness every day for someone else.
- Try not to worry too much. Worrying rarely solves problems. It just takes aways from the beauty life offers. If you are prone to worry get physically active. Take a walk. Exercise. Do yoga. Moving your body helps clear your mind.
In this same chapter of ‘The Power of the Heart’ De Pape offers the following quotes that are really relevant to the art of working on yourself to attract your kindred spirits. The first from Deepak Chopra states:
Those that we love and those that we dislike are both reflections of out own self. We fall in love with people in whom we find the traits that we want. And we dislike people in whom we find the traits that we deny in our own self. If you want to succeed in a relationship then look at the world as a mirror of your own self. Every situation, every circumstance, every relationship is reflecting your own state of consciousness.
Gary Zukav offers this gem of wisdom for meeting the people that you desire to have in your life.
There is one sure way to attract the kind of person that you want in your life, one sure way: become like that person. If you want to attract people who are patient and caring, who will care about you, and be patient with you, hold your best interest at heart, be available to you without strings, without second agendas, then become such a person to others, and you will attract people exactly like you. That’s the law of attraction. Energy attracts like energy.