Our company marked its 7th anniversary yesterday, and a busy day it was. We exhibited at Highland Spotlight, a trade show organised by Inverness Chamber of Commerce. It was a bustling day at the Drumossie Hotel, filled with more than 60 local companies.
I was reminded of the value of personal connections as I chatted with dozens of visitors and with the other exhibitors as the day progressed. You never can tell with whom you are going to connect.
I had the good fortune, during my scheduled early lunch in the atrium outside the exhibition space, to be asked by Mairi Macauly of New Start Highland, if she and her colleague could join me at my table.
Mairi and Isobel were able to tell me a lot about New Start Highland. I had already been acquainted with the charity, as a donor and as a customer of their furniture shop on Church Street in Inverness city centre.
Having worked with a number of social enterprises in Northern Ireland as well as in Canada, I find theirs a compelling sector, with innumerable opportunities for touching people’s lives in a profound way. We had an interesting and lively discussion, and in retrospect, it turned out to be a very productive business meeting, in addition to a very pleasant lunch.
And that’s the miracle of connecting with people. You never know who it is you are going to make a connection with, or ultimately, where that connection may lead. But you can be sure of one thing: if you don’t speak to people, the odds are good that you’ll not make those connections.
If there is one bit of advice I could impart, it would be to convince the chronically shy people in this world to do anything they can to get over that shyness. I was a very shy child, and somewhere along the way, my shyness started to fade. Perhaps it was working as a waitress during the summers in university, where my American guests were just so damn friendly and out-going, how could you not respond to them?
Whatever it was, I am grateful for it. Not being handicapped by shyness has done my career the world of good. I encourage anyone who is troubled by their fears of speaking to new people to look into skills to help them to cope more effectively. It will change your career, as well as your personal life, profoundly for the better.