Read my new book, An Enlightened Entrepreneur:
57 Meditations on Kicking @$$ in Business and Life"4.8/5 stars" on Amazon

5 Easy Ways To Increase Serendipity

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:

1) Send Out “Beacons” To Let Others Know You Exist

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 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:

Write A Blog

Most of the purpose of this Rob Kelly blog is to increase serendipity. I write about things that I feel I have some mastery over or that I want to learn about, and then I see who finds me.

I’ve met many people through my blog when they read my articles and then either send me a note through my Contact form or leave a comment (e.g. at the bottom of this page). Here are a few people who’ve contacted me because of my blog postings:

  • A guy with an awesome social media business plan (that he basically gave me to run with if I chose).
  • A neat college student who wanted to help me any way he could just to get to know me better.
  • An entrepreneur with a huge idea to take on Groupon and Craigslist.

Let People Know Where You’re Hanging Out

I let people know some of the events I’m hanging out at through tools like Plancast — check out Plancast/Rob Kelly to see the next event I’m attending and the past events I’ve been at.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t telegraph where I am at every moment. But if I’m attending a public event, I put that out there through Plancast so that if someone wants to connect with me, they easily can.

Leverage Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Other great “beacons” to use include Facebook (you can type your new interests in your “status”), LinkedIn (you can see who your connections hang out with) and Twitter (a venture capitalist named Joanna Rees began following me on Twitter and I looked up who she was (she had a blog!) and I found her background real intriguing).

That led to me to request a meeting with her at which she gave me the inside scoop that she was about to throw her hat in the ring to run for mayor of San Francisco (which she’s actively pursuing as I write this!).

Type out stuff or follow people (people (like Joanna Rees) might follow you)

Share Pictures & Videos

Perhaps you’re more visual…words are not your thing.

In that case, you could easily share pictures (through sites like Flickr or your own blog) and videos through your own blog or YouTube.

If you do share pictures or videos, just remember to tag them properly so that others with similar interest can easily find you.

For example, you may be a photographer who has a really neat photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

In that case, you could share the picture (Flickr is an easy way to do that if you don’t have your own blog/Web site) and make sure to title it “Golden Gate Bridge in the fog.” — then, people searching Google for pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge (especially in the fog!) can easily find you.

Sending out beacons = serendipity.

2) Be a “Go-Giver”

A simple way to increase your serendipity is to give, give, give — I like the corny term “go-giver” (versus go-getter) and wrote a piece about some tips on How To Be A Go-Giver that might stimulate some ideas.

For example, I recently agreed to give some free business advice to an entrepreneur who was trying to build a cool new business that I had some experience in.

While that first entrepreneur dropped his pursuit, he returned the favor by introducing me to another entrepreneur who then asked me to advise his new business. I would have never met the second entrepreneur if I hadn’t helped the first one.

I promise you this — if you go out and give something/yourself to someone, you will increase the chances of “happy accidents.”


3) Be More Of A “Connector” (Or At Least Hang Out With Them!)

One of the easiest ways to increase serendipity is to be a better connector.

I’m a connector…and it’s amazing how many opportunities connecting generates.

I wrote in Why You Should Be Linkedin: Is $948 Per Connection Appealing!? about how value connections are and how to use LinkedIn to leverage that.

The easiest example of how to be a connector is to connect two people you know who you think can create special value together.

The fun part is that those people you connect will credit you with the connection — and, if they’re smart, they’ll come back to you with opportunities for you!

Check out my article on Do These 3 Things And You’ll Be A Much Better Networker or How To Network Like A Top 500 Web Company CEO.

If you’re looking for a good “connector” exercise check out How To Maximize The Number Of Valuable People You Meet In Life (The Connector Exercise).

More connecting = more serendipity.

4) Write A Book (It’s Easier Than It Sounds)

Writing a book is an amazing way to increase serendipity.

I wrote a book a couple of years ago and I refer to it as my “100-Page Business Card” — I gave the book away for free to friends and family (and even some strangers) — and the opportunities that it generated continue to be simply amazing.

You can print books for as little as $5 each and e-books are virtually free to distribute.

The writing of a book can take some time, but you’d be surprised — some books are just 10,000 words these days. That could be the equivalent of just 10 to 20 of these blog postings!

I have many people who I’ve given the book to sending fascinating people to meet with…all helped by my book — a 100-page business card!

Would you pay $5 (cost of printing the book) to have an incredible person walk into your life? I would.

Writing a book = major serendipity.

5) Write Down Goals & Lists (The Law Of Attraction Really Works)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love making lists of goals and projects. I believe that putting things in writing is one of the key first steps to making them a reality.

If you don’t know or believe me, check out The 10 [Maniacal] Steps I Take To Setting Goals or read one of many books about the Law Of Attraction (like the Secret).

Last year I made a list of some CEOs I wanted to meet — one of them was a guy named Mitch Thrower who I had had a brief business encounter with when he was CEO of Active Network and I was leading a music startup called Mojam.

Mitch and I hadn’t been in touch for years but I was impressed by some of the neat things he has done in his life (triathlons, authoring books, public speaking and his latest venture Bump Networks — they enable drivers to socialize with other drivers and businesses while driving in your car!).

I put Mitch on my “List Of CEOs To Connect With” and didn’t think much of it for awhile.

Then, a couple of months ago, I was finishing up my workout at UCSF’s gym in San Francisco and I noticed a small techie trade show going on in the hallway.

As I walked by (in my sweaty outfit) I saw a booth for “Bump Networks” — I stopped and chatted with the guy manning the booth.

And I said:

“I once chatted with your founder…a guy named Mitch Thrower.”

The booth rep beamed — he said:

I’m Mitch Thrower.”

Mitch was real flattered I remembered him.

We scheduled a call, caught up and found some mutual areas of interest.

I’m not sure I would have noticed Bump’s booth if I hadn’t put Mitch’s name on my “CEO List.”

Writing down your goals or lists of things you desire = more serendipity.

1 Comment