Why You Should Talk To Strangers in Starbucks

Daily inspiration and advice for the ambitious savvy young professional
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Why You Should Talk To Strangers in Starbucks

Yesterday, one of our brand new High School Ambassadors sent me a tweet about an "encounter" he had. I thought it was such a great story and really emphasized the power of networking and the importance of putting yourself out there. I wanted to share his story with you guys. Here's what Shane had to say:

"A few days ago, I went to the local Starbucks, anticipating studying for exams, but something occurred that felt too good to be true. While attentively studying for my exam, an older lady came beside my table and asked with a foreign accent, 'Is someone sitting here and reading this New York Times?' I told her that 'nobody was sitting there' and returned to my studies. I am a Starbucks employee myself, so I knew the routine when encountering a chatty neighbor: Smile, nod, and return your head to your books. Don’t get me wrong, conversations with strangers are great, but I had to prioritize my studies.

Next thing I knew, the lady began shoving the New York Times in front of me, proudly shouting, 'Look! It’s my daughter! She’s the Senior Vice President of The New York Times!'

For a little background, I am an aspiring journalist, always searching for an opportunity in such a competitive market. How could it have been that the mother of a Senior Vice President of The New York Times happened to sit next to me in Starbucks at that very moment? In a small coffee shop in Baltimore? It felt like fate.

We began chatting and she told me many stories of her arrival to America from Iran. She told me how USA is the land of opportunity. She told me about her travels to Bora-Bora, Costa Rica, and Egypt with her daughter. And after connecting with this older lady in Starbucks for a mere half-hour, next thing I knew, I was handing her my business card, with her promise to give it to her daughter, VP of NYT."

I love this story. And I agree with Shane, the first reaction to a "chatty" stranger on an airplane, in an elevator, or in a Starbucks is to smile, nod, and return to what you are doing. But this has to make you think, is it worth a little chit-chat back? I asked Shane to sum up his story with three helpful hints, here is what he said:

1)Always carry a business card- even if you are only in high school. It may sound absurd, but it comes in handy for those “synchronous” moments. (It clearly states your contact, and is also sized to fit any wallet or purse, so it won’t be mistaken for a receipt.)

2) Everyone has a story. It may be worth taking thirty-minutes out of your study to talk to a stranger. You never know the potential friendships and connections you could make.

3) Be sure to talk to old ladies in Starbucks. You never know if they are a proud Mama.