When networking it’s good to have a plan. It makes you more efficient. But sometimes, fated networking and chance encounters can bring new life to the grind of meeting people. Still, even serendipitous networking requires a plan to enable the most successful use of your time.
Networking is often seen as a deliberate and planned activity. However, some of the most valuable connections are made through unexpected encounters that occur by chance. Serendipitous networking can open doors to new opportunities, collaborations, and meaningful relationships.
But how do you trust fate to lead you in the right direction? With a little careful planning, of course.
We will explore the most effective techniques for creating these chance encounters and discuss strategies to nurture and maintain the relationships that emerge from them.
Before we talk about how to make the most of serendipitous networking, it’s important to point out two things. This shouldn’t replace formalized networking like a leads or referral group. Spontaneous networking merely allows you to maximize the time you have outside of formalized groups. Here’s how you can do it:
Serendipitous networking thrives on spontaneity. Break free from your routine and venture into new environments where you can encounter fresh faces and ideas. Attend conferences, seminars, workshops, or even local community events outside your typical industry to expose yourself to diverse perspectives and unexpected encounters.
Work from a coffee shop. Walk to work instead of driving. Maximize your opportunity to meet new people by varying your usual activities and locales.
Engage in Random Conversations
Strike up conversations with strangers in different settings. Whether you're waiting in line, at a coffee shop, or attending an event, be open to starting discussions with those around you. Ask open-ended questions, show genuine interest, and actively listen to others. You never know where these conversations may lead.
Go for the middle ground when striking up conversations. A stranger may not be ready for a deep topic but small talk about the weather will only yield short answers or polite nods. Be observant, not creepy. Comment on a book they’re carrying or ask them a question about what they’re ordering. Look for ways to engage and spark conversation.
Leverage Social Media
Online platforms can provide opportunities for serendipitous connections. Engage with thought leaders, industry experts, and professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Join online groups in your areas of interest. Participate in relevant discussions, share valuable content, and connect with people who inspire you. Serendipity can arise from unexpected interactions and shared interests in the virtual world.
The key to being successful at this is repetition. You need connectors to see you again and again in the online community or social media platform. Instead of commenting on 20 random posts a day, narrow down five influencers or people you want to get to know better and add meaningful points to their posts or ask them questions. The more often they see you, the more they will recognize you. This can also help you increase your audience and reputation as a thought leader .
Attend Meetups and Networking Events
Join local meetups. Attend industry-specific and/or chamber networking events. While these gatherings are intentional networking opportunities, they still offer the potential for serendipitous encounters. Be open to unexpected conversations, follow your curiosity, and engage with diverse individuals.
Seek out smaller groups or quieter corners where you're more likely to have meaningful exchanges. Approach those who look like they are unsure of networking. When you’re new or shy, it’s nice to have someone come up and introduce themselves. Again, try to think of unique conversations. Instead of asking what someone does for a living as your first question, ask them what they’re working on that they enjoy.
Be a Connector
To create chance encounters for others, become a connector yourself. Introduce like-minded individuals, share resources, and make thoughtful introductions. By facilitating connections between others, you not only contribute to their success but also increase the likelihood of serendipitous encounters finding their way back to you. You can even help this process along by telling people who you’re interested in meeting; something like, “I have a passion project I’m working on. I’m hoping to meet more people like you with an interest in
Word of warning: do not use this approach as part of a heavy-handed sale. You are looking to meet people and form a relationship, not a fast, dirty sell. Speaking of relationship…
Nurturing and Continuing the Relationship
Meeting is only the first step in networking. You want to develop a relationship that could grow into something beneficial for you and the person you just met. That requires further action.
Follow Up Promptly
After the initial serendipitous encounter, seize the momentum by promptly following up. Send a personalized email or connect on LinkedIn, mentioning the context of your meeting and expressing your interest in continuing the conversation. Demonstrate genuine curiosity and offer value in your interactions.
Schedule a Follow-Up Meeting
Take the initiative to schedule a follow-up meeting or call to deepen the connection. Explore potential career interests, exchange ideas, and discuss opportunities for collaboration. By demonstrating your commitment to furthering the relationship, you enhance the chances of it evolving into something more meaningful. Use software to track interactions , if needed.
Maintain Regular Contact
Keep the relationship alive by maintaining regular contact. Share interesting articles, industry updates, or resources that may be relevant to the other person. Show up consistently and demonstrate your genuine interest in their professional growth and success.
Seek Opportunities for Collaboration:
Look for ways to collaborate with your newfound connection. Identify joint projects, speaking engagements, or mutually beneficial partnerships that align with your shared interests. By actively seeking collaboration, you strengthen the bond and create opportunities for mutual success.
Serendipitous networking adds an exciting element to the world of connections. By embracing spontaneity, you can add a new spark to your connections. Go into the world each day wondering what you can learn and how you can help. It will completely change the way you see networking.