Serendipitous Networking or You Never Know When You Will Connect
You can network anytime and anyplace especially when you have an air of curiosity, being open minded and knowing that you can often learn something new or help another person. Here are some of the places I have made some great connections.
- The post office, at the back of the line. I was waiting in line at the post office, getting stamps for all the notes that I write when I struck up a conversation with the person in front of me The conversation turned to my College Networking book which I just happened to be carrying. I always carry one of my books or any book that I’m reading—they are great conversation starters. Whatever is your 'prop', carry it with you at all times. It turned out my fellow post office customer worked with a small manufacturing company that was looking for a consultant to help with a new software system. I knew someone perfect. We exchanged cards, I followed up, and we are building the rapport and relationship and I was able to help a friend in the software business.
- The nail salon. I was having my nails done one day when I heard another customer chatting about vacation and travel plans. Starting a conversation while our nails dried, I found out the woman was looking to recruit a new member for her sales team. I left the salon with freshly polished nails and two people for her to connect with. One of them is now working with her.
- The coffee shop. I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop/diner in New York City talking with a friend about his advertising business. Noticing that a man at the next table was listening, we brought him into the conversation. This particular diner is almost like Cheers where everyone knows your name and is very friendly. We found out that he was in advertising as well and was in the market for a new opportunity. After our conversation, I learned that he did follow up with my friend and was going for an interview at his firm.
These common themes are why I say, “You never know,” and many of the people you meet in everyday life could be a potential connection that you can help and who could possibly help you over time. I have also gathered solid business contacts::
- On an airplane
- At the dentist's office
- In line for movie tickets
- At the grocery store
The point is to be constantly aware of opportunities to meet new people, because you never know who will turn out to be a great networking contact. As I’ve said before, always be prepared with your conversation starter. Don’t ask for something; offer something. Follow-up.
Good networking consists of practicing good communication skills on a consistent basis and being ready to use those skills in any situation. The most important thing is to follow-up, otherwise a casual conversation will never lead to any type of relationship.