“A stranger is a friend you have not yet met.”
— Jim Reeves (among others)
When planning strategies to find new customers or business associates, the usual reflex is to approach people we know well: friends, family, colleagues.
But this is probably the WORST source of good contacts. Why?
First, these people know you. They have a preconceived idea of who you are: brother, mother, employee, professional. And all of a sudden, you show up with a crazy idea that you are now Mister or Miss Businessman, and you want them to buy this fabulous opportunity you are selling, because all of a sudden you “believe”? Yeah, right … Be too pushy, and you quickly become a member of the NFL club (exclusively for those who have no friends left).
Second, sooner or later (probably sooner), you will exhaust your list of contacts. And once someone tells you no, it’s much harder to go back to ask for references (and even less to ask if they have “changed their mind”)…
That is why you must go beyond your circle of known contacts. You must develop the habit of approaching strangers.
The advantage of introducing yourself to someone who does not know you, is that the person has no preconceived idea of who you are. It is much easier in this case to get “in character”. They do not know that you are a beginner (or experienced) in business, or that you just endured ten “NO”s in a row. For them, you are someone new, with no reason to doubt your conviction and sincerity.
And if things don’t click with the stranger you have just met, no problem, what are the chances that you’ll ever see this person again?
The important thing is to approach the people you meet for the first time with no other intention than simply to introduce yourself and your project. That’s all. The decision to go further becomes theirs, and you’ve done your duty to make yourself known.
I have personally experienced the need to approach strangers. My professional and financial survival depended on it. During my last move to my present home, more than 3000 kms from where I lived my adult life up to that point, to a new city where I had no job, no contacts, no friends, no family except my old mother, necessity dictated that I start somewhere to rebuild a customer base. So I hitched up my courage to the engine of bold action, and I plunged into the adventure of meeting new people. Fortunately, the process was much easier than I thought because I could just be myself and thus attract people who were really interested to connect with me and even participate in my project.
Now my best customers and business partners, and even my best friends, all these are people I did not know before.
Banish your discomfort and step outside the circle of people you know. Go meet new people, simply for the pleasure of meeting them. Be visible, real, open, honest, enthusiastic. You will see that it is possible and fun to create an entire network of contacts who appreciate who you are and what you have to offer.
Because your best customer, and even your new business partner, is most likely someone that you have not met yet!