Do You Know Everyone In The Room?

February 26, 2011

The next time you attend a networking event or any event where people have gathered for a reason, look carefully around the room. Do you know everyone in the room? If not, is there any reason why you would not want to meet anyone you don’t already know?

If you don’t know everyone in the room, then you never know who might be there. You probably can’t meet everyone, but be open to meeting anyone you don’t already know. You might be just the person they needed to meet to help them address a pressing opportunity or solve a problem that matters to them.

If you are serious about growing your business or career, then whether in person or online (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twiter), be as open as possible to connecting to people you don’t already know. Operate with the intent to build bridges, not walls.

I’ve connected with a LOT of new people since I jumped into social media back in 2009. Most people have connected to me with good faith intentions, but a relative few have not. When someone I’ve connected to turns out to be a jerk, I simply sever the connection. It’s really not a big deal.

But some of these new connections have turned into a meeting over coffee in Denver, pizza in New York City, or a pint in London. I’ve done interviews for folks, and others have added value to my classes via Skype or a recorded message. Even more have turned into phone conversations or valuable e-mail exchanges. It’s been amazing.

The new tools of social connection and sharing represent a fundamental strategic shift for me with respect to how I develop, share, and ultimately leverage my value with others. I’ve found social media to be an extremely efficient and fun way of connecting with interesting, valuable, and helpful people.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (10)

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  1. Hi Bret – I love the connection and overlap with online networking and actual networking.It opens up so many avenues which didn’t exist before. I was running a workshop in Paris last week on networking and job search to a MBA group, explaining the massive cross over benefits. In the begining I was getting some pretty blank looks – but eventually they got it.

    I have found the over lap invaluable and like you have been engaged in a strategic shift. It’s also huge fun. What were the chances of our paths crossing in the real world if it were not for Twitter?

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    We would NEVER have met without Twitter, Dorothy. Lots of people are missing out on tremendous opportunity by continuing to sit on the sideline of social media. This is only going to keep getting bigger and better. Thanks! Bret

  2. Jesse Stoner says:

    Hi Bret,

    I started on Twitter three months ago on the recommendation of some colleagues. I didn’t actually believe it was going to be worthwhile, but I was curious to learn what it was about. I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly accomplish using 140 characters.

    I have been surprised and delighted to discover that I can actually get a sense of who people are, what they care about, and who has similar interests to my own. I got a sense of you by noticing that many of your students were following me and reading their questions to you and your responses. I never would have guess that I would be saying this, but I agree that social media provides a unique opportunity to form real relationships in a seemingly virtual world.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Most people quit Twitter before they experience how effective it is. It takes patience, but it pays off. Thanks, Jesse! Bret

  3. Bret,
    I am still new to the social media arena as you know, but it is really neat to see how relationships can translate from online to in person and vice versa just through simple connections. I agree with you 100% on the importance of networking with everyone in the room. It is always good to know more people. It gives you more opportunities to be of help to others. Thanks, Brandon

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    You are doing a great job, Brandon, and just getting started. Don’t quit! bret

  4. I am attending a marketing “addy” advirtisement awards ceremony this weekend with someone who is a student and has won two awards. I am going to use this award to help her muster up the courage to network like the ceremony is for. Hopefully another opinion will convince her to speak up. Thanks for the great post.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Alex! Even if your friend was not getting an award, attending the ceremony would be a great opportunity to meet new people. Thanks for sharing! Bret

  5. Dr. Simmons. Do you think at different cultures active interaction still work? For example, some people might think you are weird or think why you talked to me? If I face this situation, what should I do?

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Robert. I think in this culture people expect you to interact. I’m not sure about others, but I’m sure it might differ. Good question! Thanks, Bret