Flights. No, I’m not talking about the flights in which you pick four 4 oz. beers; I’m talking about the flights via airplane when you fly from one location to another, whether it is on vacation or during a business trip.
Have you ever been on an airplane flight? Some people have fear of flying; others love being on airplanes because it takes us to areas where we want to adventure to or just for the thrill of it. Or maybe to even rack up miles on our rewards card.
However, have you ever been on a flight where you don’t know the person sitting next to you? I remember when my parents told me to never talk to strangers when I was younger; what happens if I told you that talking to the stranger next to you on an airplane flight could be beneficial and lead to opportunities, whether it is in your career or life in general?
Why would I recommend talking to the person sitting next to you on your next airplane flight? Here’s why:
1. It improves on your communication/conversation skills: You can improve on your communication and conversation skills by speaking to the person next to you, which can be utilized in your daily life. We interact with hundreds of people weekly, whether it is during work or at networking events. However, we have different ways of interacting with both friends and strangers. Speaking with the stranger next to you on the plane is a great way to practice how to start a conversation or to just keep it flowing.
- Example: When your flight takes off, strike up a quick conversation simply by asking how the other person’s day is. “How’s your day been going? Why are you going to (location)? Have you been to (location)? What do you recommend doing there?” These simple questions can change a stranger into someone worthwhile to talk to on your trip.
2. It shows that you recognize the person: Recognizing the other person on your flight by speaking with them can make both of you not only happier but ultimately make your airplane trip more interesting and fun (unless that person doesn’t want to talk). It shows that you see and care about the person as a human being with actual emotion. You also never know what the person may be going through at the moment, and you could just make their day simply by having a conversation with them.
- Example: If it is a longer trip, you can inquire about different life events that they’ve been through and are willing to share. People love talking about themselves and their experiences, especially if it is an experience they are proud of or learned from.
3. You never know if the person could be a valuable connection/lead: I remember flying to an interview, and I spoke to the person next to me. We spoke for an hour, as we struck up a conversation on why we were going to the specific location we were flying to. I said that I was going to an interview; he asked me questions regarding my experience and why I wanted to work for the specific company like it was an interview. He never told me what company he worked for, but it turns out that at the end of our trip, he actually worked for the company I was interviewing with. Thus, you never know if that person could be a great connection to keep in touch with if you are to join their company in the future.
- Tip: After the airplane flight, ask for a business card; if they do not have a business card, add them on LinkedIn to stay connected.
4. Learn life advice: Even if the person may not be working in a specific company or industry you are interested in, they may have strong experiences in different fields that you can learn from. Everyone has their own story in which they made life choices but also mistakes; however, we learn from these mistakes in future decisions we make. You can learn some valuable advice regarding these life lessons that can be applicable to your own life or in the future.
- Tip: If they are in a suit/professional attire, it usually means they are a businessman or businesswoman. Try to inquire about their own career story and why they decided to go into whichever career they are currently in as well as any life advice they may have.
Next time you are on an airplane flight, talk to the person next to you and start a conversation. Pretend it’s a friend that you haven’t spoken with in person for awhile, and don’t be scared to initiate the conversation. You never know where the conversation may lead to, whether it is a future opportunity in your desired company or life lessons. Or maybe just getting four 4 oz. flights in the future.