Get on Their Wavelength
Most public venues carry a veneer of unfamiliarity and personal privacy, sometimes even cynicism. People don’t typically appear open or available for friend making or network building in public places. However, it usually doesn’t mean they don’t want to; it’s just that they don’t think you want to. There is also that creep factor we mentioned earlier—that fear that the person nearby or approaching is a weirdo. That’s why the way you initiate conversations and build the rapport is critical to making a successful connection.
People build relationships in real time and over time. From the instant you attempt to break through another person’s privacy barrier, either verbally or nonverbally, he or she will have to decide whether or not to engage in conversation with you. Your tone of voice, body posture, eye contact—and yes, that universal gesture of friendliness and approachability, your smile—will all be the key success factors in breaking through the veil of anonymity. The other person will be assessing you as the conversation progresses, checking you out, determining whether you are safe, secure, and, well . . . normal. A sense of comfort will settle into the conversation over time, and you will be on your way to a new and potentially lucrative association.
The good news is that people like people who are like them. It’s just a fact of human nature, and one that’s been proven in studies by social scientists. But you needn’t be a communication ...