DEAR HARRIETTE: I started a new job a couple of months ago. It's a great and rare opportunity where I have the chance to get in on the ground level in an industry I never thought I'd find myself working in.
I want to take special care to make connections while I'm here. The problem is that I don't know how to connect with these co-workers. The environment and the people are vastly different from what I am used to, and I'm not sure what to say or do. Do you have any advice on how to make connections with co-workers? -- In My Shell, Philadelphia
DEAR IN MY SHELL: Making meaningful connections with people can be challenging, especially when you feel like a fish out of water, or you are a bit shy. The good news is that there are strategies you can use to help cross that line of discomfort. For starters, always remember that people like to talk about themselves. As you look around to see who might be interesting to you, notice everything you can about them: what their jobs are, how they dress, what they like to talk about. Then look them up online to learn whatever you can about their background. When you approach someone, introduce yourself. You can say that you have noticed them on the job and wanted to say hello. Pick a conversation starter that might be a bridge, asking them about their latest project, their alma mater (if you learned about that in your research) or even their shoes. Pick a topic that seems like an easy entry point for them to start talking. Be prepared to share a little something about yourself, too.