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Take a giant leap…and network!

There’s a children’s book entitled “Take a Giant Leap, Neil Armstrong! (Before I Made History)” about what the famous astronaut was like when he was a boy. I’m guessing he was a fearless little guy who was usually the first one in line when it came to trying new things.

Not long ago I decided to take a giant leap and start a blog. The funny part about it was that unlike Neil Armstrong, I was NOT the first in line to try this “new” thing… As a matter of fact, I told my marketing team that I wasn’t going to blog. I didn’t want to blog. No way would I blog! I had published my book earlier in the year and wasn’t sure how I felt about getting started on yet another big writing commitment.

Then I realized that I still had things that I wanted to say, life experiences to share, and people to touch. I already had content from decades of journals. I found that new ideas would come to me while driving, on my morning walks, or in the middle of the night. I could keep using that writing “muscle” and make it stronger by blogging. I acquiesced and here I am, blogging about trying new things.

Taking a giant leap is all about trying new things.

Taking a giant leap is not just about taking a physical leap (which most often comes to mind first) or trying new things like blogging.

I believe it can also refer to being open to meeting new people.

Networking with others can feel risky.

You become vulnerable when you share intimate parts of your life with others. But there can also be wonderful rewards in store for you by doing so.

While working in the airline industry, I observed that something magical happens on airplanes. Two perfect strangers can sit down next to one another, and at the end of the 1, 5 or 15-hour flight, they may know more about their seatmate than about their family members or close friends. Has this ever happened to you?

Two years ago I was on a Southwest Airlines flight returning from a writer’s conference in California and I actually selected the empty seat next to… yep, you guessed it… an astronaut! “Really, Anne? Are you kidding me?” Nope. I am totally serious. You say, (as so many others have in my life), “Seriously?! How in the heck do you do it?”

The giant leap of networking is quite simple… I believe it is a matter of:

  1. BEING OPEN to talk to people. Unplug. Be aware of who is around you. You might be surprised!
  2. LISTENING to what they say. Listening is a wonderful skill to hone. Truly listen, not just wait for the other person to stop talking so you can give your opinion.
  3. ASKING QUESTIONS and CONFIRMING that you heard them right… You bet your boots I made sure I heard this astronaut right! He went to space not one, two or three, but FOUR times and is one of the astronauts to have lived on the International Space Station longer than any other! Yes, I listened intently…and asked questions for confirmation.
  4. SHARING A BUSINESS CARD with them… always have a card – if you are an aspiring entrepreneur and especially if you are unemployed.
  5. REPEATING their name! Sometimes I have to catch a glance several times at the card before the name is hard and fast in my memory. Believe me, when this astronaut got off the plane I wanted to remember his name and use it to say, “It was nice to meet you, Leroy Chiao.”

So unplug, stop reading your Kindle (unless you are reading my book, “Riskformation”!) or listening to iTunes… and try living in the present… Assess your surroundings and select where to sit in a restaurant, on an airplane, or in a doctor’s office. You can be strategic about your “chance meetings”!

Do like Neil Armstrong and “Take a Giant Leap” and talk to the person next to you. Disclaimer: You may not sit next to an astronaut, but it could turn out to be one of the most interesting people you meet in your life!

Ready, set… LEAP!