A couple of years ago I spent some time focused on expanding my network. This included really developing deeper friendships with existing friends as well as professional contacts.
At that time, I was amazed at how isolated I was -- working from home and really not connecting with people. It seemed like this was the byproduct of the gig-based work life but I knew in the long wrong it was limiting both professionally and personally.
I developed a little challenge -- a date a week. It could be breakfast, lunch, coffee or happy hour. It could be a friend I had not connected with in a while or a professional contact I wanted to get to know. It took some effort to schedule this time but after a while it became routine. On Sunday, when I was looking over my calendar for the next week I would always think about who is it I could be connecting with.
I never had an agenda for these meetings, I had no ulterior motive, it really was just to connect. By going in to a conversation with no other goals, I was shocked how often something magical would come out of the conversation. Whether it was someone connecting me with someone else, a friend offering sage advice, or just a load of laughter, I always left more fulfilled and I hope they did too.
Professionally, I am terrible at networking events and have no natural ability to whip out my business card. Personally, I am so shy at parties it takes everything I have to walk up and join a group of people talking. These situations are so stressful to me I don’t feel I am my authentic self. However, the one-on-one chats where the focus is on catching up or learning more about someone else is a wonderfully comfortable and powerful activity.
Feeling a little alone before the holidays? Take up the challenge to reach out and connect - in whatever way that brings you and someone else closer!
Links for you: Never Eat Lunch Alone
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