How to approach new people and feel comfortable

One reason job-hunting is so stressful is that it requires speaking with new people. Having a purposeful, but pleasant, conversation with a hiring manager, recruiter or HR person is tricky, especially given the added tension of asking -- sometimes begging -- for a job. Add to that the discomfort many of us feel asking others for help.

So imagine if your job was to constantly approach strangers, get them to talk about themselves and let you take a photograph. That's exactly what is required of Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the best-selling book, "Humans of New York." Stanton also posts photos of the New Yorkers he runs into every day on his Facebook page.

Through the nature of his photography, Stanton has effectively become an expert on striking up a relationship with strangers. He recently discussed his approach in a speech in Dublin, Ireland:


If you hadn't guessed by now, his tips can also help job-seekers break the ice. Stanton's key points:


It's all about the energy. Stanton says he realized that "after just repeated and repeated and repeated attempts, I realized it had nothing to do with the words I was saying. It's all about the energy that you're giving off." It's the same with networking. If you give off an aura of defeat, it will show and lessen your chances of success. Always try to be positive and confident in your approach at every step of your job search.

Everything is evaluated. Confidence can't be taught in a classroom, Stanton says. You have to earn it. People also subconsciously evaluate you according to how you act, he added. So practice, practice, practice. This is one reason it's important to network with others even when you're not looking for a job. That helps you hone your skills so you can be confident and positive when you need to approach people for a job.

Look for a starting point. In speaking with people, Stanton is seeking information to match the pictures he's taking. One way he does that is by asking about their greatest struggle or piece of advice. Asking a hiring manager that you've never met before what his greatest struggle is might not go over so well. But when you network, asking someone for some career advice just may get you to the starting point you're looking for. Everyone likes to be thought of as an expert, so asking for advice -- rather than direct help -- can lead to a fruitful conversation. And once that conversation has begun, you can sell your skills.