Have you ever been on the elevator at school or work and after the doors closed, your eyes locked on that unsuspecting elevator rider and had the sudden urge to do it in the elevator? Well I have too, but rather than wait until the next years super bowl or the next wave of cicadas (The Magicicada 17 and 13 year cicada), I make a conscious effort to do it every time I get the chance. Once my wife caught me doing it with another woman and pestered me on not doing it anymore.... I can't stop I am addicted and I do it in the elevator EVERY chance that I get!
You may ask what "IT" is... and the answer is to communicate with the unknown. This one factor will assist you in overcoming the fear of networking. It is baffling to see the number of people who I meet on the elevator and their resistance to the tribal urge to converse and find similarities amongst their peers. The issue is that if they don't know you, then you are foreign to their tribe. Many stand in isolation and face straightforward as if Medusa was in the midst or head down as if they just failed art class and their parents disowned them and erased their names from their will. Many take for granted that the opportunity will happen again, when in actuality it probably WON'T! I was recently reminded of this while sitting in the class of Mukesh Patel. Mukesh is a serial entrepreneur and a professor within entrepreneurship at Rutgers. He'd just given a lecture and told students that there is no reason why they shouldn't know all of their classmates by the end of the semester. After all, your network is your net worth. I have to actually thank him for being the catalyst to finally finish this article.
I am going to share a true story. Imagine you were there with me. I was in the elevator and there was a group of three unsuspecting people just standing around like a row of bowling pins at the local bowling alley that no one ever visits. There was absolutely NO INTERACTION. Then the bowling ball in me (Yes, I'm Part African-American, Trinidadian, River-Creek Indian and Part Bowling Ball...don't ask it's complicated) went BAM and struck the orderly pack with a resounding How is everyone today? I received the response that I am used to one person looked confused, as if he didn't know why this was happening. The other smiled AND spoke and the silence was broken! Similar to a domino effect, everyone started communicating and sharing thoughts and contributions to our brief discussion on something totally random. It is just that simple!!!
As a student or person who wants to excel, you must think like an entrepreneur and recognize opportunity. An elevator ride is the PERFECT opportunity to meet someone new whose life you may be able to change or HECK they may be able to change your life! I was not always this way, as an introvert the ability to speak up and address strangers was not always a strength for me. However through practice and consistency I have become more comfortable in speaking to strangers... even though my mother always told me not to (chances are your mother did too).
Here are three reasons why you should DO IT in the elevator:
1. Break the barriers of communicating with people you do not know- We all know that many of us are accustomed to doing what we know and what is comfortable. Communication is one of the most coveted leadership traits to have. This exercise allows you to embrace others who you don't know and strengthen that ability.
2. Meet someone who can change your life- There is absolutely no way to know who you are standing next besides speaking to them. There are a few things that can happen, they can be the coolest person since Elsa in the movie Frozen, very intriguing or have really bad breath (BUT WHO CARES YOU ARE STRENGTHENING YOURSELF)!
3. Learn to play the game- The game is RELATIVITY. Can you relate? This is an ongoing question that you will continuously have to face as an entrepreneur/intrapreneur or if you happen to be a human being. If your answer is currently no, this will help you break that barrier and challenge you to cease in using that crutch.
Many entrepreneurs are masters of networking. While you calling may not be an entrepreneur, it is in your advantage to think and act entrepreneurially to develop a competitive edge as you progress in your career.
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