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Note: This is a guest post by David B. Bohl of SlowdownFAST.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
We tend to become very comfortable within our own social networks. We get to know people, feel comfortable with them, and generally share the same views and ideas as them. This can be a social network of friends, or a group of colleagues at work. We tend to gravitate towards those people who are similar to us in beliefs and personalities.
It is beneficial, though, to push yourself outside your comfort zone and become involved with people who hold beliefs different from our own. Expanding your horizons is one of the greatest ways to achieve success, for you will make better decisions when you have a broader perspective.
It can be uncomfortable, though. There are many reasons why you may not seek out new relationships in your life, and just as many reasons why you should.
1. Fear of Public Failure or Ridicule
This is probably the number one reason people tend to remain within their own social circles. Once you have established a trustworthy network of friends, you are not afraid of making a social faux pas. You know your friends understand you and will forgive you if your decision making ability slips from time to time.
When you enter a new social realm you worry about whether you will be liked, whether you will be hurt, or whether you will be embarrassed. The only way to know, though, is to brave the consequences and try.
2. Building New Friendships
As adults, most of us have had the opportunity to screw up enough times to realize that none of us are perfect. This means we are likely to cut each other some slack and not expect absolute perfection from the people we meet.
If you have ever attended a conference, notice how on the first day everyone is very stand-offish, and few people interact with each other. Within a short time, though, acquaintances are made and people are making lunch dates with each other. Many times, by the end of a week or a long weekend, the beginnings of a friendship have formed.
Take advantage of these opportunities. Go to conferences or conventions whenever the opportunity presents itself. Bolster your courage, walk right up to someone you do not know, and introduce yourself. Begin by asking the other person questions about his product, his business, or his involvement with the event. These open-ended questions will spark conversation, and before you know it you will have found some sort of common ground. Once you have made such a contact, follow up with an e-mail or a phone call when you get home to make sure the lines of communication remain open.
The more you can get into the habit of networking like this, the easier it will become. You significantly enhance your ability to meet your professional goals when you maintain a diverse network of contacts.
3. You Never Know Where New Friendships May Lead
Perhaps you have developed several friendships with others in your chosen field, people who come from all parts of the country. In your conversations you described a particular expertise you happen to possess. Suddenly one of your new acquaintances has a need that you would be able to fill perfectly.
The position would mean a move from the freezing cold of the upper Midwest to the shores of sunny Southern Florida, complete with a pay raise and all. It may be your dream job, and you never would have known about it had you not had the gumption to get out and talk to people.
There are so many other advantages of social networking. You have the ability to learn about diverse points of view and meet people from all walks of life. You have the opportunity to create new memories, have new laughs, and potentially even find new love in your life.
There is the possibility of having negative experiences – of being embarrassed, of getting hurt, but that is true with any relationship. You should not allow the fear of what could be to interfere with the possibilities of positive results. Social interaction leads to greater self growth and self awareness, as well as broadening your view of the world.
You never know what possibilities are out there waiting for you unless you actively seek them out. Open the door of opportunity and success will surely follow.
David B. Bohl writes about living your vision at his own blog: SlowdownFAST. If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, or read one of his most popular articles, Conflicting Desires: Knowing That We Have Enough vs. Always Wanting to Better Ourselves.
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