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Connie Ragen Green — Why I Talk to Strangers

I’ll admit it — I talk to strangers. I’m not sure when this began, but it has connected me with some pretty awesome people over the years. Four years ago, while waiting in line at the post office I met Barbara Winter, someone who’s been an online entrepreneur since the 90s. She’s also the author of Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love. When we met for lunch a few weeks later she gave me a copy of her book. In the front she wrote “I’m so glad you talk to strangers.”

So last week in the canned foods aisle at my local grocery store I started a conversation before anyone was directly in front of me. As people came closer from both directions I asked a question that most anyone could answer…

“Is it cream of mushroom soup that goes into a green bean casserole?”

Soon there were several of us all talking and laughing and interacting at once, including two men, a woman, and two of the cutest little kids I’ve ever seen (except for those in my own family, of course). So why do I speak to
strangers and have conversations in the canned foods (or even the frozen foods or the produce) aisles?

This is why…It helps me with my public speaking, my storytelling, creating compelling headlines, and more. Yes, my business improves when I interact with new people on a regular basis. And I strongly encourage you to do the same thing.

Creating opportunities to be spontaneous, to come face to face with absolute strangers and share stories is invaluable to anyone who is a creative in any area of their life. I’ve had people tell me things that they are most likely not sharing with those they know because they are so personal. And I have shared stories that my friends and family and even my colleagues and students have heard so many times they could tell the stories themselves. The value in talking to strangers is in the moment, knowing you have but a few minutes at most before you head in opposite directions forever.

In my encounters with strangers over the years I’ve laughed, cried, hugged, nodded, listened, empathized, and shared almost every emotion possible. It’s a form of “on the spot therapy” in which each person must make that split second decision to play or not. Many choose to avoid eye contact and keep moving past you at an accelerated pace, but even those people have been known to slow down, turn around, and acknowledge me before disappearing out of my life.

My most recent experience was in the grocery store on the night before Thanksgiving. An older man was pushing the cart with two little girls aboard. As the girls and I began talking he had a twinkle in his eyes but didn’t say a word. The girls shared with me that their grandmother was at home preparing the holiday dinner and they were on a mission to pick up the items the grandfather had forgotten earlier. In turn, I told them that I am the worst when it comes to forgetting something at the store and shared that I just wanted to get out of the house after a long day of cooking and decided to see who might be at the grocery store. At that very moment I realized I had forgotten to get fresh cranberries earlier and told them this story in as dramatic a fashion as possible. We giggled and made silly faces at one another and then said goodbye, and I have to believe Grandpa was fascinated at this encounter. One of my takeaways was the headline I used when this group was further down the aisle and on approach. It was:

“Who Else Needs One More Thing Before Their Thanksgiving Dinner Is Complete?”

Talk to strangers. You’ll be glad you did.

Connie Ragen Green is a bestselling author, marketing mentor, and online marketing strategist, working with people and corporations on six continents to help them increase their credibility, expand their visibility, and explode their profitability. If you’re interested in getting started with the journey to online entrepreneurship and taking your life to the next level, find out more by downloading your Online Entrepreneur Blueprint and get started today.

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