Being a Connector and Having the Courage to Invite

01/23/2024 06:48 AM Comment(s) By Jburns

You got this! do.

You all know it.  That feeling when you walk into a new place (cafeteria, conference room, meeting, class, bar etc.) and you don’t know a soul. Who will make the first move?  Will you ask to sit next to someone for lunch?  Will you sit and not say a word? Will you wait for an invitation? Or the classic “May I join you?”

Curiously…we all want to feel connected and included, yet most of us hesitate to do the inviting.  Whether that’s to ask someone to join us for lunch at a table? Go on a date? Have a conversation over a hot beverage? Or just sit next to us in a meeting?

This blog is inspired by two other blog/articles.  One by Seth Godin “Everyone wants to be connected” (January 13, 2024) and the other by Hannah Seo “The Case for Inviting Everyone to Everything” (November 23, 2023). Check them out.

Where does the disconnect come from?  Fear of rejection? Fear of imposing? Fear of looking stupid?  Is it rude to invite myself?  Do we think the other person already has something going on?  Newsflash…they usually don’t…they’re waiting to be asked too.

Yes, asking and inviting takes courage. It also requires a little bit of time and a skosh of logistics.  We can all do it.  When we value the feeling of a genuine connection, conversation, or shared story over the fear of feeling lonely or isolated…great things happen.  I belong to a service organization that meets weekly over breakfast. It feels so amazing when one of my colleagues/friends asks me to sit with them and they’ve saved a seat for me. I feel cared about, remembered, and valued.  Wow…all that in being asked to share a table.


Guess what…connecting, being engaged, and inviting folks, even to little things, improves our social, emotional and physical health.  If you haven’t heard…we’re in an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.  Experiencing chronic loneliness and isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (Surgeon General’s Report May 2023)

As a speaker and workshop facilitator, I travel quite a bit. I enjoy going to the meals with audience members and participants.  It’s always an awkward moment when you exit the buffet line and look around the ballroom for a place to sit. It’s my time to ask and/or invite depending on the situation. It’s important to be able to be a good guest too. Initiate a conversation by asking good questions.  Need some conversation starters? Try these!

Here’s my ask/invitation…you knew it was coming 😉 Next time you’re sitting around wishing you were included, feeling lonely or isolated – choose to be the connector or the inviter.  You can send a text, DM, email or make a call and invite someone to meet for a beer, watch something on Netflix, go to a concert, get a hot beverage, go to lunch, go for a walk and talk, meet for a hike, meet at your rec center for a class. Most of the time folks will say yes. Negotiate a time that works for both of you and then honor the commitment.  It’s ok if they say no, you made the effort, and often the ‘no’ isn’t about you. It’s an opportunity to invite and connect again. You got this!  Your social health will thank you! 


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