An Actionable Guide to “Meeting as Many People as You Can”Of all the generic advice I’ve received in my life, and trust me, there has been a lot of it, “meeting as many people as I can” is one of…
Of all the generic advice I’ve received in my life, and trust me, there has been a lot of it, “meeting as many people as I can” is one of the most common.
But unlike most of the other junk thrown my way, meeting a boat load of people, I can now say, has actually changed my life. In fact, it’s become an integral part of what I do and how I live.
And so, I thought I would upgrade the really generic couple of words bestowed upon me into a tactical piece of instructions for people to follow suit (if, of course, they are interested).
So here it goes…
An Epic, Actionable Guide to Meeting as Many People as you Can
I think that this advice often gives off the wrong feelings. And I think I understand why. Throughout the early years of our life (19 of them for me), meeting people is a given. In fact, our environments dictate who we meet. We become friends with our parent’s friends, the people at our lunch table, and on our basketball teams. Meeting people, for social reasons, is spoon-fed. But as we age, people begin to struggle to meet others and fend for themselves. This struggle continues as we get older because networks grow apart from one another and divides blockade interaction. In summary, it gets harder to meet people the further you go out of your comfort zone (your environment), thus as you age, it becomes continually harder to meet more people.
Now enter professional “relationship building,” call it networking if it makes you feel more proper, but at the end of the day, this relationship building is the same. It gets harder to meet people who are further separated from where you stand. That means if you are a student, it is harder to connect with some big CEO than it is to connect with a fellow student. Of course these are not laws, but rather general trends.
Now, my definition of “networking” is to “level up” and reach out to people who are way out of your league. I get the most out of trying to meet people who are not in my network.
That is a weird thought to most people because most people are not comfortable with going outside of comfort. In fact, most people should not be. It is actually in our DNA to instinctually avoid discomfort.
But I think that the best way to learn is to step outside of comfort and for me the best way to do that is to talk to people that “I should not be talking to.”
Knowing this, you would understand why it be crucial to make a concerted effort to reach out to people. I’d say that this cannot be a passive endeavor.
So to start “meeting as many people as I could,” I literally built an excel list and mapped out who I wanted to meet. I made a couple of different columns — name, email, phone, notes, and finally: “type of person.”
To classify my type of person I borrowed from Malcolm Gladwell’s 3 type of people — salesmen, connector, and maven. I generally bucket a person into one of those three (though it is never a perfect fit). Occasionally, like once or twice, I mark someone as special.
So now that you are onboard with the framework of making a list (which is huge) how should you fill that list?
Think about what you want to do. Where you want to go.
For me, my goal was to learn more about the space I was interested in: tech and business. Simple goal — learning. For a while my goal was to get out to SF (hey, I am here now!) , but that was just to “optimize for learning.” Whatever your goal is, don’t stray from it too much. It is easy to get caught up in distractions.
Once you have done that, there are a number of ways to begin “queuing” people to put on your list. A couple of my favorite ways are via Twitter and Linkedin. Those two resources will generally point you in the right direction to finding the “holy” email address that will open up your future.
Once you’ve begun making that list…you should begin reaching out to people. And this is the part that a lot of people mess up. They over-complicate things because they do not put themselves in the recipient’s shoes. I’ll save you a bit of time and energy — no one likes long e-mails. Everyone likes short and to the point emails — especially if you are not asking for much. And in this case, you are asking for literally 15/30 minutes of someone’s time.
And don’t take it just from me, here is some advice I got from when I first started:
Justin Kan — YC, snapchat superstar
People generally like to help, just don’t make it hard for them to do so.
Here is an example of what I would write some one :
My name is Jordan and I share a passion for the intersection of tech and business.
I am really interested in your experience with ____ and ____ and would love to find a time to chat about your past as well as advice you have for a student in the future. Also, I’d love to help you out doing ________ because I am _______.
Shoot over a time that works for you and I will be sure to make it work,
How easy is that ? Remember, do not copy and paste from person to person. You should only reach out to people you are genuinely interested in talking to and learning from. This is not a lesson on spam!
3/4 sentences is more than enough to demonstrate — who you are , what you want, and why they should care.
Obviously the more you contact, two things will happen: You will naturally get more responses. And you will get better at writing emails!
This whole process is a learning curve, like anything else. The initial climb is tough. But don’t give up (unless you want to).
Try starting with one person a day.
I promise you that you can do this, and that you should start doing this. I began really attacking this in January and now have over 200 people on my “list” that I actually talked to!!! People that I did not know before. You know what that means? I’ve learned so much in the last 6 months it is actually unreal. Things that you could never learn in a textbook are from real life people.
And all you need to do this is time. There is no room for excuses.
Most of you probably will not do this. A small percentage will start. And most will quit after a couple of days. And that’s fine. This is not prescriptive, just my story. There are so many ways to get to what you want. Don’t expect quick results.
Thank you so much for reading!
I’d love to continue this conversation on twitter @jrdngonen or shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org ,
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Exported from Medium on February 17, 2018.