I love serendipity — who doesn’t? I met a mayoral candidate for San Francisco last year due to some stuff I did to increase serendipity.
We all love serendipity — is it ever even a negative thing?
You never hear someone say:
“That guy really stabbed me in the back — how serendipitous.”
The layman’s definition of serendipity is “happy accident” — the word serendipity is said to come from author Horace Walpole who riffed on the word Sernedip (an old name for Sri Lanka) used in a fairy tale called “The Three Princes Of Serendip” about making discoveries by accident.
Here are 5 things I do to increase serendipity:
The most effective way to increase serendipity is to send out “beacons” — I first heard this mentioned by entrepreneur Jack Hidary in the book Power of Pull.
Jack — who works on the neat iAmplify.com business with his brother Murray — uses the analogy of a ship at sea that sends out beacons to let others know where it is and where it’s headed.
Beacons — I like that.
Here are some examples of beacons I’ve used to increase serendipity: …
A crafty college student named Brian Kerr networked his way into a phone meeting with me back in March — I was impressed by his chutzpah (I welcome cold-calls from ambitious folks!).
However, what really impressed me was the “thank you” letter he just emailed sixteen of us — that’s right, he talked to 16 people in his job searched and thanked us all.
I’m blown away by the tenacity and professionalism of this young man: He even included details about why each of us were valuable to him in his job search.
I’ve included the email below (with his permission)…we have a lot to learn from this man.
His email is more thoughtful than ones I receive from most “professionals” with decades of experience!
From: Brian Kerr
Subject: Thanks to you, I got a job!
This email is a thank you to everyone who played a part in helping me in my career search. I graduated from SFSU 5/21 with a major in Business Administration: Marketing.
5/22, I was hired by Firetide as WLAN Business Development. (How perfect, I know) Firetide is a Wireless technology startup that is located in Los Gatos, CA.
They specialize in Wireless Mesh infrastructures. As part of WLAN Business Development, I will be working with two other individuals to ramp up and scale Firetide’s WLAN division.
Ultimately, the people at firetide truly won me over… (the CEO is hilarious, the Sr. Product Manager always has me smiling, and my team is made of Swedish tennis players….what more could I ask for?)
Kostas, Navid, James: Thanks for all the help on my resume, with your feedback, you helped me build one hell of a resume. (The final version is attached to this email)
Rob, Gady, Greg, and Dana: It was from speaking with you that helped me get a clear understanding of what I truly wanted from my first professional job. I learned that I wanted to be a social connector, someone who can do sales, marketing, pr, and management.
I realized that I needed a small entrepreneurial environment where I can wear many hats and take on lots of responsibility, so I can feed my desire for variety while still allowing me to take ownership/responsibility.
Ultimately, the most important thing was that I realized I wanted a place where I could make connections and build lasting professional relationships, internally and externally.
Jon, Kerry, Skip: Thanks for such a great time at TKG, you guys showed me that no matter what, I have to love the people I am working with.
Nancy: I can’t thank you enough for creating the environment at SFSU where I could learn inside the classroom, but also really truly learn by connecting with the faculty, orgs, and administration so that I could learn whatever fueled my interests.
Don, Anne, Foo, Mike, Jan: Your classes were by far my favorite. It was because of you that school was a pleasure. Please continue being amazing teachers, students need more teachers like you.
Thank you for helping me reach the next step in my career, one day I will be sure to return the favor.
I chatted with DocStoc Founder & CEO Jason Nazar the other day.
You should know abut Jason and DocStoc because Jason is an amazing networker (among other things) and DocStoc has been one of the fastest growing Web sites in the last few years (ranked 407th by Quantcast with 15 million unique visitors per month, according to DocStoc).
Jason and I had a little chat in which I asked him a few questions. He agreed to let me share it with you.
Q: Hi Jason, you really value business networking — tell me your philosophies.
I personally enjoy networking. I like meeting smart, interesting successful people.
From a professional standpoint, I believe the principal of it’s “who you know not what you know” is very true.
One thing about the Internet is that we spend a lot of time behind our computers…you’ve got to get out there and meet people.
Typically the larger the network you have, the more opportunities you have.
We spend a lot of time behind our computers…but business still gets done in person.
People want to work with other people they like, trust and respect.
And you don’t do that by just sending emails and sending IMs…you have to get out and meet people.
And if you want to have opportunities such as getting hired, raising money, building your company, and hiring the right people…you need to have a large network.
Typically, the larger your network is the more opportunities you have.
The business we’re building is a consumer-facing Internet company – we’re trying to get pretty much everyone in the world to use DocStoc. …
I first heard about the concept of being a “go-giver” from Bob Burg in a book he wrote called Winning Without Intimidation; he later made the phrase more popular by writing Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea.
I used the Go-Giver phrase, which is corny but good, in a speech I made to entrepreneurs a few years back.
From that speech, and others, here are seven tips to being a better networker or go-giver:
1) Giving is Attractive — “No matter what your profession, if you can give increase of life to others and make them sensible [i.e., “aware”] of this gift, they will be attracted to you, and you will get rich.” Wallace D. Wattles from The Science of Getting Rich …
A number of people ask me how I obtained a large network of contacts (I have 3,000 names in my iPhone).
Strangely, I’ve never thought of myself as a schmoozer…I’m actually fairly introverted.
But I’ve been very lucky. A few things were in my favor:
So, the 3,000 names isn’t that impressive — it really just came from 20 years times of storing an average of 100+ contacts per year.
That’s just 1 new contact I made (and stored) every 3 days. I’m sure you could do that (unless you’re a monk at a convent in which case you’re probably in the wrong place right now!).
But there is one secret I was reminded of a few years ago that I wished I had implemented earlier on in my career!
It’s only briefly mentioned on page 37 of the soft-cover version of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
In a word: “Connectors.”
Here’s an exercise I’d like you to do (should take 15 minutes and be fun):
Here’s a snippet from my list:
Now, you’ll start to notice that just a few people — in my case Chad, Ted, Erin and Dave — are responsible for connecting me to most my friends.
Gladwell calls these people “Connectors.”
I’m a Connector too, though not as good as my Connectors.
So, if you want to to expand your network, here are a few lessons:
I was inspired enough by this exercise to take Chad & Ted out for a yummy steak dinner at Gene & Georgetti’s in Chicago where I presented each of them with a personalized gift. It was of minimal value compared to the value they have given me through their Connections.
Thanks, Mr. Gladwell and thank you, Connectors!
What do you know about Connectors and Networking? Please comment below.
Are you linked in?
If you’re in business, you likely should be!
LinkedIn is a business networking tool that allows you to keep track of your previous and current contacts as well as get linked to new ones.
Why should you care? Because each of your contacts is worth an average of $948 in annual revenue, according to a 2009 article by Business Week Magazine/Harvard Business Review. (note: there used to be a link for this article but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have been archived — at least I can no longer find it). .
I’ve been using LinkedIn since it was founded by Reid Hoffman in December of 2002.
You can see my profile here: LinkedIn (note: You’ll only be able to see my public profile there unless you are already a LinkedIn member).
LinkedIn is similar to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, only it’s focused purely on business.
Here are some of the reasons I recommend this online networking tool:
I have a short-cut for you to beef up your number of LinkedIn connections..the following tool helped accelerate the growth of my linked in network.
Use their Import Webmail Contacts feature (It’s an option in the Add Connections section and might also be offered when you first sign up). LinkedIn then will go check out all of the email addresses from your email account and offer you the option to invite any or all of them to link in.
I personally chose to invite only the people who were already LinkedIn members (LinkedIn indicates that) and you can send one email to all of them with a personalized message (which I recommend).
Here’s a great 8-Step Action Plan on Setting Up & Maintaining LinkedIn written by a networking pro for a Webinar he presented to Chubb.
And if you want to expand your network even further, check out The Connector Exercise.
Good luck with your networkin’.