On past blogs
Originally posted on March 18, 2015.
How to network without knowing it & have fun
Last week, like a 6-year-old, I asked a fellow blogger if he wanted to be my friend. I said it without any self-consciousness whatsoever but acknowledged to myself that he might find it odd. Adults don’t do that.
I didn’t say it exactly like that at first, but I’ll get to that.
Have you found that it’s generally harder to make friends and meet people after you graduate college/university? Have you noticed that the same advice is used whether you want to make friends or find someone to date?
“Go where people who share your interests are.”
This is the premise behind Meetup and social groups that bring people together online for offline activities such as hobbies and sports.
I used to have dating profiles on a couple of dating websites. For a period of time my profile said something like this:
“I’m not necessarily looking for ‘the one’ but ‘expanding the network’. If it doesn’t work out between us, maybe we have friends who we can set each other up with.”
I once went on a date with a guy who I didn’t see it happening with. I told him that I’d be interested in being friends. I meant it. I’ve never said that if I wasn’t being honest about it. In response, he got huffy and informed me that he doesn’t “need any more friends”. When I pointed out what I’d written in my profile, he told me that he thought I was just saying that. Not my problem. Most people lie, I guess. I’ve been socializing online for about 20 years, and I’ve always been my true self. No bullshit. The difference is, offline I’m more shy. Introverts like me are drawn to blogging.
One of my best friends is someone I met on a dating website. We got along great, but I decided not to date him. He’s an excellent networker though and keeps in touch. We were in sporadic contact for several years before meeting in person for the first time at a party (he shouted my email address across the room because he momentarily forgot my name) and we became friends. My current boyfriend, with whom I was friends first, is a lot like him.
Another thing I’ve found: Often when I meet people in groups there’s little time to talk, and sometimes I encounter the same person repeatedly in groups of people but don’t really speak with them. Then, what could be months or years later, we finally click. I recently had my first one-on-one conversation with someone I’ve known for over two years.
Every time I go to a professional networking event — tweetups, meetups, “-camps”, “-cons” — I inevitably say to someone regarding networking events:
You never know if you’ll meet your new best friend, your next business partner or the love of your life.
So back to the story I began telling at the top, here’s a transcription of the instant messaging conversation with this fellow blogger:
Will you be my friend?
Me: “Let’s meet up for lunch in the next couple of weeks. I’ve been meaning to propose it for a while. I feel like we’d hit it off.”
(I considered saying something like “I feel like we should be friends”.)
Him: “you wanna be my girlfriend? go steady?”
(I was so glad he said that because it’s the exactly the kind of smart-ass comment I’d have made and even though this was text, I detected a smile. )
Me: “I was afraid it would sound that way though I have a boyfriend, and I’m not your type.”
Him: “I expected so.” [Laughter emoji]
Me: “I almost added that it awkwardly sounded like ‘want to be my friend?’”
More chit chat happened. He asked me questions about myself, my blogging and my working style. While answering his questions, I still had the goal of pursuing a friendship with this person. I told him things such as, “I kind of was asking if you wanted to be my friend.” and “People are too busy to turn acquaintances into friends. Gotta integrate it into work!”
And that’s it. People are too busy, or they’re focused on one end goal. In this case, I see this blogger at the occasional PR event. I think he’s a talented photographer. I have a business idea, and I’ve been thinking of asking him if he wants to be a part of it, though I didn’t get to that in our conversation.
“You never know if you’ll meet your new best friend, your next business partner or the love of your life.”
And to me, that’s networking.
As I advised a friend two years ago, “Get out, meet people and eat cupcakes”. Hell, just say “hi”.