Colin Cowherd is currently the host of a radio sports talk show for Fox Sports. Yes, he talks sports, but occasionally he'll rant about entertainment, politics, unions and even religion. A while back, he spoke about the benefits of being an extrovert and it stuck with me.
Cowherd mentioned that he probably wouldn't have his job if he didn't have the natural inclination to talk to the people around him -- cab drivers, people in the elevator, those he met at airports, or in sports stadiums. He rattled off statistics about how many more people succeed in their lives simply because they're extroverted. If you have the ability and confidence to talk to people serendipitously, good things happen.
I think he's right.
Think of all the times you were just going about your business and you could have struck up a conversation with someone influential (or anyone really) and there was a chance to create an business networking, or personal, opportunity. Of course, if you never strike up that conversation, there's absolutely no chance for that opportunity.
As in, zero chance!
An opportunity to land a job. Earn some business. Refer business. Give some advice. Get some advice. Learn something. Have fun. Or just to help a brother out.
Here are seven opportunities to become more extroverted as you go about your day to day. Of course, apply this to your real life happenings, scenarios, and adventures!
At the supermarket.
Or at the bank, dry cleaners, deli, Starbuck's, barber, dentist, auto service center, or wherever life happens to take you as you run your daily or weekly errands. As you're standing in line or sitting in the waiting room, instead of texting, tweeting, or playing Angry Birds, look for someone nearby that has "smiley eyes" (a term I learned from a media coach) and say hello. Strike up a conversation. Ask a few questions about them, comment about what they're reading, and ask what they're having done to their car or whatever. If the conversation feels right, it will continue, if not simply go back to doing what you're doing. I struck up a conversation today while standing in line at Staples. Did it turn into business? No. But I did smile and laugh on a day I needed to smile and laugh. Worth it!
On an airplane.
Since I travel on business, I'm on airplanes from time to time. Typically, there's a fellow business traveler seated next to me and I can't help but to say hello. Travel is a lonely business so it's not such a stretch to greet someone sitting only six inches away from me. Besides, we'll be six inches apart for 2,000 miles, 35,000 feet, and 655 miles per hour. So why not introduce myself? Nobody has ever changed their seat to escape me (that I know of) and I'm sensitive to keep the talk light, appropriate to the tone, and to allow for the solitude that a good book or a nap might bring.
In the airport.
I've watched more playoff baseball games in airports than anywhere else. It seems whenever my flights have been delayed, it's Game 2 of the American League Division Series. That means a crowded bar at the airport with a lot of frustrated travelers all too happy to talk baseball. Of course, easy questions to ask those around me include, 'How long is your flight delayed? Where are you headed? Do you travel often? What type of work do you do? Who do you work for?' Then I just go from there!
At the kid's game.
In my case, it's the kid's cheerleading events, competitions, or at the football game watching my daughters on the sidelines. (My 9 year old is starting to play basketball so I may have to change my rap.) If you happen to be one of the coaches, you have an opportunity to get to know the other volunteer coaches. If you're a parent that stays on the sideline or in the stands with your hot chocolate, introduce yourself to the people you probably see every week. 'You know I see you here every week. I'm Michael! Which is your son/daughter? Nice to meet you! What type of work do you do when you're not spending five hours at cheerleading?' And so on!
Your extracurricular activities.
I spend time meeting and getting to know people at the gym, in my softball league, and even through Fantasy Football. Some of these folks (many are friends) are accountants, financial advisors, attorneys, various sales reps, business owners, mortgage brokers, and realtors. In fact, one of my boxing sparring partners is an international equity trader. Over the years, I've become a client to those I got to know through my softball league. I've also landed clients through my friends in the league and I've helped several of the players with their resumes and job search. My activities have led to many friendships and a great community.
With your clients, referral sources, and advocates.
Why not look to create more opportunities to spend time with those you do business with? Make it a point to set aside one day a month, on the calendar, to grab lunch, dinner, a drink, a ball game, jazz, or whatever your thing is with a client, referral source, advocate, or even a 'true' prospect. Every quarter, I have lunch with one of my favorite clients. It's a standing date that involves sushi, conversations about our favorite television shows (we have a lot in common here), and other events in our lives. It's a lot of fun. Not by design, we talk about business for about five minutes and then we're back to catching up on Game of Thrones and Billions.
When the spirit moves you.
If you're going along your merry way and you're in the mood to start a dialogue, "weigh in" on someone else's conversation, or offer to help somebody out. Remember, if you don't ask the question, the answer is always no. So always ask and be on the lookout for opportunities that may fall in your lap.
Please keep in mind that you don't have to be a small talker, have the gift of gab, or be an extrovert to talk to strangers. (By the way, Cowherd mentions that mom's advice about not talking to strangers is great advice, until you turn about 15.) And you don't have to be an extrovert (or a Colin Cowherd fan) to be more extroverted. But, as with anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Start practicing now. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Don't save your small talk for the elevator.
You could end up with your own radio show!