“Throughout this journey of life we meet many people along the way.― Mimi Novic
Each one has a purpose in our life.
No one we meet is ever a coincidence.”
What are your high school friends doing right now? I imagine some of them are entrepreneurs, some have full-time jobs, and some are already married.
But one thing they have in common, is that they all have different sets of knowledge. One has an idea of how to raise a human. Another has the experience of holding a meeting.
You never really know what they have gone through or what kind of knowledge they have acquired, unless you spend some hours talking to them.
A human is more than a library full of books.
When we’re building and maintaining relationships, we’re actually building a network of opportunities, lists of people to call, and doors to open.
Imagine what we can achieve if we’re connected to the right people.
“Don’t wait for the right opportunity: create it.”-George Bernard Shaw
Why you should network (or talk to a stranger)
Get life advice
Want to get an objective take of your life?
Talk to a stranger.
I befriended an uncle when I was still commuting for my internship. We took the same bus every day. I also made friends with an aunt on that bus. They’re both in their early 60s and still working, so they had so many life wisdom. We would exchange stories of our lives, both current and past, and I would leave the conversation feeling inspired and somehow, reassured.
The people in your life sometimes are too attached to you. They know your past and your past self, but they can’t see what kind of person you should become for you to achieve your goals. They also won’t tell you that you’re doing a great job, just because in their eyes, you’re the same person every single day.
A stranger, on the other hand, would be a fair ‘judge’. I’m not saying that you need to follow people’s opinions, let alone a stranger, but it’s nice to hear what people think about your life.
Find career opportunities!
Two years ago, I went to Hubspot’s GROW event in Singapore. It was my first ever professional, international event, abroad. I wrote about the whole experience here.
I was still a freelancer (VA/content) at that time, working part-time for Caldera Forms, too, so that’s how I introduced myself to the people I met there. My social battery ran out so fast that I only had time to talk to less than 15 people, but all the conversations went great.
As soon as I came home, I did the best thing you could after you meet someone at a conference.
I sent them all a message, saying that it was nice to meet them, and we should keep in touch.
One of those people actually owned an agency. She knew that I write, and she ended up offering me some writing projects for her agency! It’s not that consistent, but every now and then, she would reach out and ask if I’m available for work. Last month (which has been 2 years from the event) she still offered me some work!
Help and connect people
Sometimes you’re not the one who would benefit from the relationship. And that feels even better!
Around September last year, I volunteered at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. I made friends with the other volunteers (we still keep in touch through Instagram!). One of the people I met there was also a content writer. We exchanged stories about our respective jobs.
A few months later, I spoke at WordPress Jakarta Meetup. After the talk, I spent almost an hour talking to the attendees. One of them owns a startup, he’s looking for ways to implement email marketing for his startup. I pointed him to several resources that I knew of.
About six months later, the startup owner contacted me, asking if I could manage his email campaigns. My hands were (and still are) full at that moment, with a full-time job, volunteering for the WordPress community, and grad school preparation. But I remembered that friend that I met in Ubud.
So I introduced them to each other!
And it turned out even better, because she’s more experienced in marketing in Indonesian than I am.
I believe that giving things, knowledge, or even connection to people doesn’t really take anything from you. It only strengthens the relationship you have.
Networking in quarantine
I hope by now you’re convinced to start networking.
It’s even easier now to network, while we’re all in quarantine. You don’t need to go somewhere else to meet people. Just use your computer and internet connection, register on the platform, set a schedule, and meet your match. It’s like Tinder, but for professionals. Some platforms I’ve tried are Cuppa and Lunchclub. I like Lunchclub better and that’s my invite link if you want to skip the waitlist 🙂
Another way I really like to meet new people (as you can see) is by volunteering. You get to work on things you’re interested in, alongside other people with that same interest. I’ve met many cool people through volunteering in the WordPress community. If you happen to be using WordPress, join us on Slack!
I’m an introvert. Can I network?
I’m an introvert, too.
When I first started going to conferences, I had so many insecurities and questions. What should I say? How should I greet them? How should I introduce myself? Will they be interested in me?
First, wear a proper, but comfy outfit. You should feel confident in what you’re wearing.
Second, learn how to introduce yourself. Learn how to do the elevator pitch. Here’s a great video from The Futur about that.
Third, go to conferences or an online networking platform and practice. Be interested in people’s stories.
It gets less awkward over time.
Oh, and you’ll run out of energy by the end of it. So set aside the time to network, and give yourself some time after to recharge.
Meeting new people = opening up possibilities
Every new person you meet can lead to thousands of possibilities.
You can be introduced to different ideas, opportunities, and people.
Living in a world that’s constantly changing, it’s important to be open and preserve optionality. That can be a topic for a whole new blog post, but here’s a great read from Farnam Street on this.
Ultimately, preserving optionality means paying attention and looking at life from multiple perspectives. It means building a versatile base of foundational knowledge and allowing for serendipity and unexpected connections. We must seek to expand our comfort zone and circle of competence, and we should take minor risks that have potentially large upsides and limited downsides.Preserving Optionality: Preparing for the Unknown, Farnam Street