Confident people do a lot of things well, and they make everything look so easy and natural. As a result, we see them make great connections, land opportunities, and success appears to just fall in their lap without any effort. But behind the scenes, confident people are doing something to create opportunities. And once you start doing it too, you will find that you appear more confident on the outside and feel more confident on the inside. And that one thing is to initiate.

Following are four areas that you can increase your confidence and your opportunities by taking the initiative:

Initiate Greetings and Introductions: A friend of mine was excited about her first day on a new job, but after being there for a week said she felt like an outsider because very few co-workers stopped by her office to meet her. I asked her why she didn’t go introduce herself to them, and she replied, “Because I’m the new person!” I was reminded of when I show up to a new place….whether it’s a social, a professional networking group, visiting a church…it’s great when the established people in these groups initiate introductions with me, but I have realized over time that this is not going to happen as often as I expect it to. How do you do this when you are the new person? By simply saying, “I’m new and want to introduce myself. My name is Antoinette.” Yes, it’s that easy! And how do you introduce yourself when you are already in conversation or when you have known someone for awhile? Here’s a link to a video of how to recover in those sometimes awkward situations: https://youtu.be/j7f8Rn4HlKI

Initiate Connections: Is there someone that you want to get to know better? Are there people only know about–that you would like to get to know personally? Do not take the passive approach and wait for an opportunity to maybe come your way. You be the one to take the initiative. Ask them to meet you for coffee…or a meeting…or a phone call. I was at a multi-day conference, and there were several people that I wanted to get to know better, so I took the initiative and asked each of them to meet up with me. When I told a friend that I was meeting up with five different people to get to know them better, she said, “Wow! No one has asked to meet up with me!” I replied, “Well, no one asked to meet up with me, either! That’s why I asked to meet up with them!” Some things can seem so obvious, but you can still miss them, never even considering that you need to be the one to make these encounters happen.

Initiate Speaking Up: This may be easier for extroverts than for introverts, but by speaking up when you have a thought, opinion or question you will not only be viewed as more confident, you will feel more confident. You show that you believe in yourself enough to know that your thoughts need to be heard. How many times have you sat in silence, with lots of thoughts or questions rolling around in your head but feeling too uncomfortable to voice them? Or have you ever hoped someone would ask you your thoughts or opinions but they never did? Over time I realized that I could not use my introversion or reserved nature as an excuse to not speak up. Sure, it felt uncomfortable when I first starting doing it, but I didn’t less the discomfort stop me. The more I speak up, the less scary it feels.

Initiate Going The Extra Mile: Whether it’s leading or serving teammates or customers, preparing for a presentation, contest or an interview, doing a favor for a friend or even a stranger…when you do more than what is required of you, I promise, you are going to feel a sense of pride well up within you. That pride will make you feel more confident, and your action of going the extra mile will make you appear more confident. Yes, the extra mile always requires more self-discipline, more work, and more time. But the rewards are great. As Napolean Hill so aptly advised, “Start going the extra mile and opportunity will follow you.”

People usually fail to take initiative in these areas either because they don’t realize they need to or because it feels uncomfortable. I have just removed the first reason. Now that you are self-aware of your need to initiate, the only hurdle now is the discomfort of doing it. And acknowledging it is uncomfortable in the beginning is the first step. Acknowledge the discomfort, do it anyway, and watch your confidence and opportunities grow!