08 May How to Make Friends: Networking Lessons From the Monsoon Diaries and Dale Carnegie
Those who travel out of the country frequently, commonly fancy traveling with their significant others, or close friends. Knowing someone for a long time makes them feel comfortable and safe while exploring abroad. I’m here to tell you the opposite – traveling with strangers is just as comfortable and safe, if not even better because of the friendships you gain. Networking can yield the same benefits.
When I travel with the Monsoon Diaries for my crazy, impulsive weekend trips, I meet a new group of inspiring individuals from across the world – for the first time in my life. We come from different parts of the country, lead different lives, and probably would have never met if we didn’t have one thing in common: wanderlust.
The moment we exit our gates at the International airport, we’re skimming arrivals for the same crazy-minded go-getters, the ones with just one backpack, a gigantic water bottle, layers of clothes to hike, and bright eyes. We introduce ourselves to each other for the first time ever, and then we hit the ground running through countries like Ireland and Bulgaria.
Making friends can be a daunting task. It can be even more intimidating to build relationships with others as you enter the professional world. In public relations, it’s important to have strong friendships with the media, your clients and colleagues.
Lambert, Edwards & Associates recently launched a program titled, ‘Club 4:40.’ In this club, you read a book of your interest from the selected library, and share your takeaways with your colleagues. As a young professional, I decided to embark on Dale Carnegie’s timeless bestseller, How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Here are a few tips I learned:
Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.
Although my international trips with these strangers are very short-lived (24-34 hours), they become very intimate. As travelers, we’re genuinely interested in learning where our fellow traveling mates are from, where they’ve been, and why they’re crazy enough to only spend a weekend abroad.
While I was in Bulgaria, we hiked through the sprinkling rain and ended up in a hotel where one of the oldest ruins was house in the basement. Unfortunately, it was closed for a private event, but to our benefit, we just went back upstairs, ordered Bulgarian beer, and shared our life stories. Genuine interest is important and it can be so effortless. I apply this same concept to those whom I meet through networking.
Principle 2: Smile.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling to a country where no one speaks English, it’s that smiling is a universal facial expression.
Principle 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
While I was experiencing the nightlife in Dublin, I met a new friend named Benediktas Kirklaitis (hey Ben!). Cool name? Yes. Even cooler personality? Most definitely. We still communicate today.
Principle 4: Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.
Each traveler has their own story of where they come from and where they’ve been. It really shows me that I have so much more to learn. In the professional world, it’s the same. Listening often brings more value.
Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
People love to talk about what they’re passionate about and those are the best things to hear about.
Principle 6: Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.
When you’re traveling with a group of strangers, everyone is important. One person navigates the roads; another person is planning which direction to hike next, another is calculating costs with the currency differences. Someone is sharing information they know about an ancient ruin and someone else is taking photos to document the trip. The most important thing? That no one is left behind. We travel with each other.
If I could afford to travel every weekend to see new places and meet new people, I would! But the reality is I’m doing it on a smaller scale in the community I work in every day. Through this book I’ve learned that sometimes, all it takes is a genuine smile, sincerity and interest in one another. Step out of your comfort zone, meet new people and learn new things.
Brenda Duong is an associate at Lambert, Edwards & Associates.