Old Post: How to Network Without Knowing It & Have Fun

Originally posted 2013-12-02

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 harder to make friends and to generally 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 awhile 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.”

Pair of CoffeesI 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 never said that if I didn’t mean 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 me is 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 for whatever reason, I decided not to date him. He’s an awesome networker though and keeps in touch. We were in sporadic contact for years before meeting at a party (he shouted my email address across the room because he blanked on my name) and 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 meet the same person repeatedly in groups of people but don’t really talk to them. Then, what could be months or years later, we finally click. I recently had my first one-on-on 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:

[bctt tweet=”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:

Me: “Let’s meet up for lunch in the next couple of weeks. Been meaning to propose it for awhile. 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 – no emoticon necessary. )

Me: “I was afraid it would sound that way but I have a boyfriend and I’m not your type.”
(He’s gay.)

Him: “I expected so haha”

Me: “I almost added that it sounded awkwardly like ‘want to be my friend?’ ”

Then he started asking me some questions about my blogging and working style and while answering them, I was still on the real “friend request” with messages,

“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 an awesome 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.

I’ll say it again:

“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”.