It just so happens that casual meetings are taken for granted nowadays given the fact that so many take place on a daily basis. However, building a strong network can only be achieved by a master and it usually takes years and years of hard labor, trying various solutions and failing. Yet, the most important thing is to learn from all the mistakes you’ll make along the way.
The good news is that there is a large variety of opportunities to take advantage of, that will facilitate the process of connecting with the people around you that you happen to casually meet. All you need to do is open your eyes and depart from that comfort zone you hold so dear and take advantage of the opportunities that arise.
I’m going to break it down for you: You will have no clue who the person you just met and you are casually talking to really is. Moreover, you cannot really tell where their experience may lead to. I’ll give you an example: Last week I had a casual brunch with a close friend that so happened to bring along another person that just so happened to live near me. Sadly, there wasn’t really a real purpose for the brunch aside the fact that we live nearby and we should get to know each other.
In this scenario, just keep you mouth closed and listen. As it happens, after listening to their conversation for an hour I soon learned he’s an extremely successful entrepreneur that has build during his career multiple successful large companies. He’s even managed to take over three companies that were in financial difficulty and turned them around and made them profitable beyond belief.
Prior to that brunch, I had no clue I was about to meet him. This has opened my eyes and determined me to treat every person I ever meet as the most important person in the world. By adopting this mentality you can expect significant social benefits, but take into account the fact that you can make a remarkable first impression only once.
Do your best to look local. Regardless of the fact you are building a new small business or that you’re working inside a large company, you cannot really say with how many people you have connected to through other people with whom you interact, laugh or do business on a daily basis, mainly because they are casual interactions.
Maybe you are working in the medical sales domain and trying to land a whale (top doctor). In most cases, it just so happens that one of your neighbors knows that doctor personally and you do not know this because you have never bothered to build a relationship with him or her, or even just simply ask.
I mean, you shouldn’t go barging in and banging on every door and ask your neighbors to the point they will be annoyed, but offer them some of your time to get to know and interact with them on a regular basis. A solid relationship will break down the barriers and will facilitate the process of asking for help or even connections. Usually, good people wish and actually help other good people.
“Harvest” respect. I feel that it is important to underline that you shouldn’t ask for a connection or help from a person you have no relationship with. In theory, you could, but the chances of that actually happening are slim to none. This is one of the most common mistakes new up-and-coming networkers make.
First, you need to build a connection and earn the trust of the person because if you need their help, they need to trust that you are not going to embarrass them when they will introduce you to a person.
If you focus on creating true relationships built on mutual respect you are creating an opportunity, from which both parties can benefit from, whether they just enjoy interacting or helping you.