Startup Right: Tips to Connect with Others

The Startup Right series is a place for the Canberra Innovation Network to share insights from mental health professionals that apply directly to entrepreneurs. We’re here for you, as part of the Virtual Coworking community, the Weekly Innovation Challenge and on LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on EAP Assist; EAP Assist is an Australian company established in 2008 providing employees with confidential phone counselling and digital support.

Social relationships support good mental and physical health. These 14 tips will help you to enjoy better interactions with the people you encounter, so you can feel the benefits of positive connection.

1. Think positive
Worries about social situations can make you overthink your interactions. Don’t dwell on worries about how you’re perceived – shift your focus to the other person or the topic of conversation. If you’re an entrepreneur, your idea is likely a great place to orient a new conversation!

2. Forget comparison
Don’t be concerned if others appear to have more or better connections than you. Quality and enjoyment matter more than quantity. Savour the moments of connection, wherever you can find them, and constantly expand your base – in a small city like Canberra the right acquaintance can open myriad doors.

3. Expect change
Circumstances can leave us vulnerable to a sense of isolation. Relationships shift over time and we may lose touch with friends who were once important. Accepting change as normal can help you adjust.

4. Tolerate discomfort
Anxiety may cause you to avoid socialising. Understand that awkwardness does not mean you are doing anything wrong. Reach out to others and your skills will improve with time.

5. Listen well
Practice listening. Ask questions and really listen to the answers, rather than just waiting for a turn to talk. Respond warmly to people’s experiences through your posture, facial expressions and words.

6. Rehearse
Out of practice with chat? Spend some time thinking about questions you can use when conversation stalls. You might ask if the other person has experience with startups, has been to many CBRIN events or is new to the community (like yourself).

7. Say names
Using someone’s name when you know it demonstrates caring. Offer yours. Ask after their loved ones, or pick up a previous conversation topic, such as their project, to show you’ve paid attention.

8. Go offline
Social media helps many people, but it can also increase disconnection. Ensure you have a healthy offline life. Perhaps invite trusted online friends to an offline meeting to build your relationship.

9. Chat to strangers
Unexpected moments of connection greatly improve your mood. Share a smile and eye contact with a stranger, or chat to a fellow customer waiting in line. Rise to the challenge of finding common ground with strangers.

10. Help
Helping someone gives a feel-good rush. Create a bond with someone by offering help or asking for it. Something as little as assistance with a bag or holding a lift can help people feel seen and cared for.

11. Join in
Embrace opportunities to join, volunteer or participate. This connects you to other people, unites you in a shared activity, and provides an easy way to get to know people better.

12. Reconnect
Reach out to friends from your past. Many people welcome such efforts and the feeling that you care. If you plan a catchup, why not revisit a place or experience where you shared happy memories.

13. Manage stress
Everybody has some social situations they dread. Practice simple stress management techniques, such as breathing deeply and slowly, to help keep your stress in check through awkward moments.

14. Practice, practice, practice
Relationship skills can be learnt. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that social connections are good for you. If you feel like you need support to build better connections skills ask for help from others.

A great place to hone these skills is with the like-minded community of entrepreneurs, investors, students and business pros who come to every free First Wednesday Connect!