It is springtime. A new season has started. New life beings. In the Persian tradition, on the 21st of March a new year starts. It is a good time for new beginnings, friendships, partnerships and to grow your network.
Many people nowadays are isolated, focused on their niche, and they struggle to expand their professional network. Many have travelled from their hometown to live in Geneva, New York, Paris, Nairobi, Bangkok, Rome or Vienna. They changed jobs, work in a new company or moved along with their working partner. Yet, we all need a good and strong network of friends and allies – and perhaps even a soul-mate. 😉 We all need a few good people we can connect with on some deeper significant levels and rely upon when needed.
In this edition, I share with you six simple things you can act upon to find new friends and allies – both professionally and personally. These are not difficult to do. The limit is only your own willingness, enthusiasm and energy to get out of your (work) niche and house – and out of yourself.
Go and find new friends and partners. Not only will you feel better, but you will also discover new career paths and meaningful parts of your Self.
1. Search in your postal code
Search within your neighbourhood. The rule of thumbs is to increase your network with people in the same postal code like you. Why? If it is someone within your postal code, i.e. building, division, community, city, etc., you are certain that you both work and live close by. Do not solely focus on remote or online networks, social media or long distance relationships: if you want to seriously start a new fruitful professional collaboration or an intimate friendship, then start locally. Stay within a one-hour radius, which is manageable. Connect with people geographically close to you. Get off your smartphone. Get offline. Get out! Start meeting real people within your postal code.
2. Join a real group
Pick a new hobby. Something you are interested in. Join a professional association in your field of expertise – be it a communication group, sports, swimming, fitness, music, reading, art or photography club – anything that is of your professional or personal interest. Join a real club or create your own buddy-group. Go and study something new. Find an educational or professional program and sign up. Not only a virtual space or an online group, because you cannot see or meet people, rather find a real space and face-to-face encounter. Somewhere where you actually can touch the people.
3. Meet FoF
Meet Friends of Friends, friends of colleagues or even ex-colleagues or cousins of your friends, if you must (you get the picture, I hope.) This is one of the best ways to expand your network. Say Yes every time someone invites you to a gathering. Just say Yes and make the effort to go out. Have lunch, drinks or whatever! – but with others. As Keith Ferrazi says in his book, Never eat alone. Even when you want to stay to finish some tedious work, or you just feel super comfortable at home, or simply want to lie on your couch – push yourself and jump up! In fact, especially when you feel lazy and apathetic, this is the time when you really push yourself to go out. Even if you do not feel like it, just go out. Say Yes! And meet FoF.
4. Give your time
Invest your time in something positive and beneficial. Volunteer. Go help others. Go to the company board, check out the announcements and pick something. Give your time to an association or pro-bono work. The more you give, the more chances that you will meet good people and get something in return. Of course, you are busy and time is limited. But it is feasible, if you manage your everyday time wisely and meaningfully.
5. Be curious, open and interested
The more you open up, the more you will become vulnerable, but also the more potential that you get closer to someone else. Take only 20% of the time to talk about yourself when you meet someone new. Allow and let the other person talk more. They should be speaking 80% of the time. Listen and be open-minded. Ask questions, be sincerely interested and in a receptive mode.
6. Find similarities
When you meet new people, try to find some similarities, common interests, same expertise, background or hobbies. Find a commonality and build on it. Meet the other person again and do something interesting or fun together. Or find a way to exchange your skills and interests. Share your passions, a good book, cook together or do something you both enjoy. Follow up with your new potential friend or ally.
So, to summarise, stay within your postal code, join a real club, meet friends of colleagues, and say Yes every time you are invited to go out, be curious, open and interested, and find similarities with new people you meet.
Lastly, do not forget to be in contact with your “old” colleagues, partners and friends. Keep in touch. Old networks also mean a lot. Keep them active. Make the effort to remain connected. Instead of only texting, posting on social media, or clicking “like”, call your close partners and best friends, hear their voice, or even better: meet face-to-face! Give them a nice pat on the back or a hug.
Keep up-to-date with their careers and lives, with what is on their mind and be in touch with them … and also with Me 😉 I’d be most happy to read or, even better, to hear from You!