I recently celebrated a milestone on Linkedin. I’m proud to say i reached the 500+ connection mark (LinkedIn doesn't display the exact number after 500). It’s a goal I’ve had in mind for a while but considering I’ve yet to reject a single request to connect, it’s not quite a feat.
Right around the time I reached the coveted 500+ mark, I got a message from someone I’ve never met before asking me to meet for coffee. He’s embarking on a project to meet 50 people for coffee in 50 weeks. After I got over my initial skepticism that this was some weird ploy to pick up young, impressionable females, I started to think seriously about his project.
It’s not exactly a secret that I have a knack for connecting people- for identifying potential mutually beneficial situations among various people in my many circles and making things happen. It’s one of the most thrilling and energizing parts of my job. It’s also not a secret that I’m pretty terrible at meeting new people. I shy away from large groups and I tend to stick with the people I already know well.
So what happens to the many people I meet in passing? Usually we become Facebook friends, exchanging the occasional like or witty commentary. But for the most part, the ties remain weak. We don't know enough about each other to identify opportunities to collaborate. Nothing happens.
That’s why I’ve decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and take the same challenge. No agenda, no strings, just coffee (or beer). 50 opportunities to learn from the successes and failures of other people. To get to know their needs and interests so that one day when the opportunity comes up, we can work together and make something great happen.