Most of the 100 people in that jury selection pool just sat around that room being bored. Some were sleeping, some read gossip magazines, others made calls from their cell phones. Everyone looked quiet bored and frustrated to be stuck there from 8am-5pm with no way out. It was deafly quiet.
At one point, my name was called. Me and eleven other people were sworn in and then escorted down the hall, across the causeway and into the court room. They put us into what was probably a jury deliberation room.
You know how it is when you are in an elevator full of people: no one looks at anyone, nor speaks nor smiles. Well, the same silent rules of conduct were at play in this room of 12 prospective jurors. You could have heard a pin drop.
Then I asked a question out loud in the room “Who here is planning on trick ‘o treating this Halloween?” A conversation then ensued and about 8 people got involved. The ice had been broken. Thank goodness!
Most of us were released (“rejected” really) and sent back to the jury pool to wait to be called again. I took this opportunity to strike up deeper conversations with people who had been in the smaller room with me.
One very interesting woman was a business development director for an aerospace company. I started asking her questions about her work and what she thought of business networking and its role in business development. She said
“Business Development is all about relationship building.” – Angela, Business Development Specialist
She shared with me some of the techniques and approaches she uses in networking. I will be featuring her ideas in my next week’s blog (stay tuned)
The morale of this story
Anywhere you go where people gather can be a potential networking opportunity for you. You just have to be willing to introduce yourself to new people and talk to strangers. (oh, and bring your business cards. You’ll want a mechanism to follow-up with the people that you meet)
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Call your local court house and ask them to summon you to Jury Duty. JUST KIDDING.
Put on your “networking hat” this week and approach every event (personal or professional) with a networking mind-set. Be ready-willing-able to network with people you don’t yet know. Strike up conversations with as many strangers as you can. Practice introducing yourself and shaking hands with others. Smile and make eye contact with them. Develop your listening skills and ask open-ended questions. Make an effort to create a new connection EVERY DAY of this week. Follow-up on that new contact via Linkedin or other means. By the end of the week, you’ll have seven more resources in your sphere of influence.