Since I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve come to realize the power in random “you never know” meetings. I define one of these meetings as connecting with someone in person without any immediate agenda. When I lived in Boston, I was extremely specific with people I wanted to meet based on my immediate business objectives. If someone wasn’t in my industry and couldn’t be of value quickly to me, I simply wouldn’t take the meeting. I would tell myself “meeting would waste time for both of us so it’s better to dismiss it nicely”.
While this strategy seemed smart back then, I do regret some meetings that “could have” amounted to larger opportunities now or in the future. Now, I’m not saying that you should take every meeting, but I do believe that sometimes, one meeting can lead to another, which could create a new opportunity that you couldn’t have foreseen. There are only three degrees of separation now so everyone has a rolodex that could potentially support you in some capacity but the rolodex doesn’t get revealed until you meet in person. While many in my generation stick to texting, tweeting and snapchatting, I believe that these technologies should be used primarily to bring people together in real life. Meeting new people in person is exciting because you never really know what can happen as a result. The person might have been thinking of you for a business deal, could become a client, might introduce you to your wife or could become your next best friend.
Now, you’re wondering who you should have a “you never know” meeting with. Choose people who you find interesting, or who you believe you could learn from. They don’t have to share the same profession with you, be in the same industry or be in your extended network. When you find talented, and interesting people, they are typically doing something that could inspire you. They are also the type of people that will do something great someday and you can be part of it if you invest your time in building a friendship with them today. You always notice celebrities with their entourages, surrounding themselves with “non-famous” people, because they knew them before they broke out. By investing your time in the right people, even if they can’t help you today, you are setting yourself for more possibilities in the future.