My approach to networking has changed a lot over the years.
As an introvert, I used to attend conferences and not talk to anyone. But nowadays, I make it my goal to talk with as many people as possible.
For example, I recently returned home from the Future Proof Festival in Huntington Beach, California, where I met tons of people and handed out stacks of business cards. I just walked up to complete strangers and started chatting them up.
I know that may sound scary to some of you. Trust me, my introversion still rears its head at events like these. But this was a laidback conference, outdoors. It wasn’t one of those stuffy seminars in a hotel ballroom with suits and ties. People were in shorts!
Anyway, regardless of the event, I challenge myself to push through my reluctance to participate. It’s not always easy, but in my experience, networking is just too valuable to avoid.
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Some people get lucky and make YouTube videos at home and get discovered. But that’s not a realistic strategy for success. Most of us need to go outside and meet people to get ahead. We need to put ourselves out there day after day.
Sending emails won’t cut it either. That’s not going to get you noticed, and many people aren’t likely to go out of their way to help you.
You need to take a more active approach. If you’re in an office, skip the email. Walk down to that person’s desk instead. Pull up a chair. Do whatever it takes to gain exposure.
There’s this naive belief that if you work hard and do a good job, you’ll get recognized. But often, that’s just not enough. You can work harder than everyone else and not get noticed because you’re hiding behind a monitor. It’s easy to get lost in the mix.
It’s always in your best interest to put yourself out there. And each time you do, the odds of something good happening increase.
So many opportunities in life arise from chance encounters, which is why you should always go to conferences. Always take meetings.
Because really, you can have a life-changing meeting with somebody at a conference. That happened to me in Los Angeles, as a matter of fact.
Sure, sometimes you attend a conference and nothing comes out of it—that’s fine too.
But luck will never find you in your apartment. At the end of the day, you want to be positively exposed to it. And the way you get positively exposed to luck is by going out in the world and meeting people.
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