Blending relationships from virtual to in-real-life and everything in-between can be challenging yet exciting. This is the perfect moment to make new friends, forge new conversations, and fine-tune and expand upon existing relationships. Meeting someone in person, who you have only previously known via the internet, may feel like meeting an old friend. Yet, it is important to remember to edit out, or to solidify and grow both new and established relationships. Long time friendships may feel a bit strained, or absolutely joyous. Not all will feel aligned with a 2021 version of yourself. From a position of choice, ask yourself the following.
- Who do I most want to attract into my life right now?
- What relationships have value and depth for me?
- Who elevates my energy and makes me laugh?
Then initiate these 10 strategies:
Assume that everyone is your potential friend.
If you approach every meeting and conversation from the vantage point of connection, it will empower you to relax and more organically be yourself, which in turn will build a more solid connection faster. This opens the door to deeper communication and potential new alliances in all areas of your life.
By engaging in an open flow of unscripted communication, you open the door to getting to know people in the sincerest and most meaningful way. This is especially true in business where you may tend to get to the agenda, or eliminate the banter. Staying in the conversation with people allows for a free flow of ideas and a more open and connected ongoing communication.
Get in the habit of leaving people better than you found them. What is your value-add to the interaction? Say hello, be inclusive, offer to help. From Zoom meetings to in-person encounters, add something to the moment and be of service.
Ask questions and genuinely include others. When you show an active interest in someone, you not only elevate their energy, you impact your own. Showing interest is one of the greatest boosts you can offer to those you know and to those you are first meeting.
Listen to understand rather than simply to respond. Be all in. Resist the temptation to multi-task or to interject. Make eye contact and align body language with the message you want someone else to receive in this interaction. When you hold space for others to speak, you offer them the greatest gift you can; the gift of your attention and the gift of your time. Intelligent conversation is only possible if all parties are completely engaged in the moment. When you pause, you allow someone else to dig deeper, to bring more to the table. In the process you build a foundation of respect, understanding and lasting communication.
Say hello and acknowledge people.
Good old fashioned friendly still works! Say hello, pay a compliment or simply make eye contact. Validating one another sets current and future conversations in motion.
Smiling sounds simple, but you’ve been wearing a mask for a long time! Or, your smile has been broadcast on a screen rather than from across a table or a room! Use your smile muscles all day long in real time. A smile engages and it is meaningful. It says I see you. It communicates friendly and approachable. A smile is an instant energy lifter for yourself and for others.
Invite and include.
Don’t wait for someone else to invite you to something or to text or call. Stay in action on your 1/2 of the relationship and offer consistency and dependability in doing so. Friends and business relationships don’t just happen, they are the result of mindful and consistent interest. Even if you don’t know someone well, invite them to an event you are attending or include them in the lunch you are arranging. The best way to build a friendship is to ignite it by starting it!
Friendships take work to build and maintain. There is no one and done. Same is true for business clients. Follow up on shared ideas, invitations, and introductions so that you stay front of mind while building trust.
Initiate ideas. Volunteer.
Finding things to do that connect you and others over shared interests is always a good investment in time and relationships. When you are in school or new to a job or town, this can be easier to navigate. When you are not new to a place or situation, make sure to include in-person and virtual opportunities to grow your network. Helping others by volunteering always has a positive give back to yourself. Sharing a common interest and working on supporting an organization or a team will in turn support you in forming instant bonds with like-minded people. Be the driver of this.