There’s one pretty obvious reason why real estate agents should talk to strangers: to meet new prospects. You never know who might be getting ready to buy or sell a home. Even if they aren’t ready now, you might make a friend (or at least a close acquaintance) who could become a client further down the road.
That’s the obvious reason why you should talk to strangers. But there are actually some other benefits that can make you a better real estate agent, as well as a better person.
1) Get out of your head
Sometimes when you’re hustling through your day, trying to stay focused and productive, your brain switches over to autopilot. Following the same routine day after day, while important, can also get a little...boring. And you run the risk of forgetting to ask the important questions: Why am I doing this? Am I spending too much time on this? Could I be doing this better?
Shake things up by talking to a stranger. Even if it’s just a quick break from your routine, engaging with a fellow human being will be good for you. It will force you to get out of your head (looking at you, introverts) and be present—and you suddenly might see that nagging problem or challenging task in an entirely new light.
Kio Stark, author of When Strangers Meet, gives a profound Ted Talk—Why you should talk to strangers—during which she shares this sentiment: “When you talk to strangers, you're making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life and theirs.”
2) Be more empathetic
Talking to people from all walks of life opens your eyes to experiences different from your own. It forces you to break out of the social bubble you’ve created for yourself. It increases your capacity for empathy—the ability to understand a situation from another person’s perspective and share in his or her feelings.
In a business that revolves around relationships with other people, the ability to empathize will take you far.
3) Have a happier day
An article by Lifehacker points to a study that showed chatting with strangers during a commute made riding the train a more enjoyable experience.
The article also suggests that we intentionally act happy when we talk to strangers, even if we’re having a pretty crappy day. And the simple act of acting happy can actually lift our spirits!
You can never have too much happiness, right?
4) Practice going outside your comfort zone
I’m guessing those first hundred times you made cold calls to tell people about your new real estate business, you were pretty nervous. I absolutely would be.
But as time went on, and you did it over and over again, you started to feel a lot more confident about making those calls. Right?
The more you practice getting outside your comfort zone, the better at it you become. So why not practice by striking up conversations with strangers? You don’t have to worry about rejection, because you’ll probably never see them again. You can just focus on desensitizing yourself to the discomfort. Do it enough, and you’ll be fearless.
5) Maybe even make a friend
Talking to strangers doesn’t have to be motivated by dollar signs. Start by being genuinely interested in the person—because everyone really is interesting—and just see where the conversation takes you. If they naturally ask what you do and you say real estate, great, maybe you’ll get a lead out of it. If they don’t ask, don’t bring it up. Just enjoy the conversation. You might even make a friend.
Some Tips For Talking To Strangers
I’ve shared Kio Stark’s Ted Talk below, but if you don’t have time to watch it, here are a few tips she shares, as well as a few tips I’ve found to work:
- Comment on a third thing: It’s easier to talk to a stranger if you have something to talk about. When you’re out on a walk, a simple, “What a beautiful day!” can start a conversation. Or maybe you’re in line at a coffee shop—”Oh man, those croissants look decadent, don’t they?”
- Pay a compliment: Stark usually goes for the shoes. If shoes aren’t your jam, clothing, hairstyles, or the cuteness of one’s dog are other safe things to compliment. Speaking of dogs…
- Try the “dogs and babies principle:” It’s a lot easier to talk to someone’s dog or baby than to actually talk to the person. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It takes the pressure off, and allows the person to decide whether they want to further engage in conversation or simply smile and nod. As someone who has a dog and a baby, I can tell you, this works. And that brings me to how you can get strangers to initiate conversation with you...
- Have a conversation piece: On my first day at a new job, I intentionally brought along a giant plastic cup with South Carolina Gamecocks emblazoned on the side. My plan worked—it immediately sparked a conversation between me and one of my new coworkers about our respective alma maters. Sporting your favorite team’s logo is a go-to, but a funky necklace or necktie could also do the trick!
- Do a random act of kindness: Do something nice for someone—hold the elevator, pay for their coffee, offer to share your umbrella. In addition to being kind to a stranger, you might get a nice little conversation out of it.
Talking to strangers isn’t just about fishing for leads. It’s about adding some spontaneity to your day, opening your eyes to other people’s experiences, boosting your mood, acclimating yourself to uncomfortable situations, and maybe even making a new friend.
It forces you to slow yourself down. And when you do that, you see so much more.
Have you had a particularly interesting conversation with a stranger? Share in the comments below!