Talking to Strangers

As part of the process for the business venture I am creating with my arts entrepreneurship class, I am required to go out and talk to random people one on one about what they thing of our venture-in-development. Ok, not so much a random people but a sampling of people who we believe to be our customer base. This means, depending on who we believe our target market is, the kinds of people with vary. Thus, I must talk to a wide range of people, at least in the beginning, until we narrow down what our venture will be.

This has not been an easy process for me. I am not a person who can walk up to a perfect stranger and just begin a conversation. At bars, concerts, or theatre performances that I end up going to by myself, I am the person who scans the room for some one I know and if I don’t know anyone, I find a comforting corner and people watch during intermission. Then, I beeline to the car after the show, even if a friend is in the performance, and opt for meeting up with them later to talk about it. I just don’t like putting myself in awkward situations. I envy those like my brother or my boyfriend who can talk to and make new friends in almost any situation. Therefore, it has been a learning experience to figure out how to go about talking to strangers.

Through my experience this past two weeks, I have begun to notice that I have a natural process I perform, which is non-intentional, however, is turning out to be affective. First, I look for people who do not look to be otherwise engaged in something. For instance, if I am at a coffee house, I do not go up to those people who are rapidly typing on their computers or have headphones on, seeming to be immersed in whatever they are doing. I also do not go up to a couple or a group of people who are immersed in intense conversation. I look for a person on their own, or a couple people who to me look as though I would not be intruding and would not mind if I begin a conversation with them. Second, I look for people who have something that stands out to me that I can use as a jump starter to talk to them. I look at what a person is is wearing or jewelry if it is a woman, or a person’s hairstyle, something I can comment her on to start talking to them about. Then, I chat for about 30 seconds on something off topic, like the music that is playing in the background, before I ease my venture questions into the conversation. So far, this process has been a big success. Not one person has turned me away.

I have also noticed that in doing this for two weeks for this project, I have starting doing this in real life. I am more likely to make comments to random strangers and spark up conversations with people I have never met, whether it is at the grocery store, or in the common area waiting to go to class. I am beginning to see the confidence level in myself get a little higher when it comes to talking with strangers. Who knew that a class project would begin to help me get over my fear of talking to strangers? Let’s just hope it continues, even after my first rejection.

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