Margarita Pavlou, the 388th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, told me that, in her experience, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. This remark says a lot about her personality, which values cooperation, openness and connection, in both her personal and professional life.

When Margarita was a teenager, she observed that adults who don’t make a point of building and nurturing relationships can become socially isolated. So even though she was already an outgoing person, she made a point of being even more relationship-focused, initially socially and ultimately professionally.

This mindset has served Margarita well over the years as she’s studied in different institutions and worked in different countries. She says it gives her an edge in developing high-performing teams, and has resulted in her being trusted to lead multimillion-dollar data and digital transformation projects.

When it comes to meeting new people, Margarita has found that if you’re willing to be the one to initiate the conversation, and if you can make the other person feel comfortable by sharing something about yourself, you can quickly build rapport with a stranger.

Margarita hosts dinners every two or three months, to which she invites former colleagues, and encourages them to bring a visitor so their social and professional circle expands. She’s also a member of not one but two book clubs. So she’s both socially connected and a professional connector.