Create Your Own Chance Encounters
By Andrea Tinianow, Connector-in-Chief, Connector Street
Delaware is a small, lightly populated state. We tend to bump into folks we know when we go to restaurants, movies, concerts, and the market.
Actually, that was pre-Covid. Now, not so much.
As a result of the pandemic, many of us work from home and Zoom into meetings, classes and events around the country and the world. During these video calls, we have good, solid social interactions with people we know, and we see new faces. But something is missing.
For me, that’s bumping into people, literally. I miss running into people I haven’t seen for ages. I miss the opportunity to happen upon new people on the buffet line, in the ladies room, and at the coat check at conferences and events. I miss striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to me at a business meeting.
But lately, I’ve had a few encounters of the human kind that have brought back just a bit of the spontaneity that has vanished during the pandemic.
For example, the other day, I was invited to a Zoom meeting at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. (Yes, Arizona. Recall that I live in Delaware.) I wasn’t sure what to expect because I am not a member of that Chamber. (I had connected with the Chamber leader over LinkedIn, and she invited me to the meeting.)
The thought of attending the meeting intrigued me. I soon learned that the meeting participants would be matched up so they could talk offline to see how they could be helpful to each other. l ended up getting matched with three Chamber members. I don’t know who any of them are. But I now have video calls scheduled. I’m excited to get to know them!!
Even mundane activities like organizing the photos on your phone, or cleaning out your contacts can lead to unexpected social activity.
The other day, my husband was deleting older photos from my phone. Just by chance, he pointed out an excellent photo of a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. I thought, “why don’t I send him the picture, he just might like it.” Wouldn’t you know, he got right back to me. And now we have plans to get coffee next week.
And then a few nights ago, while I was organizing my contacts, I came across someone who I hadn’t spoken to in more than a year. The last time we met he was headed to Asia to work on a cool project. I wondered how he was doing, and shot him a quick text. He texted me right back-- and we scheduled a call. What fun! I can’t wait to hear what he’s up to.
It may not be possible to replicate chance meetings while we are working remotely or maintaining social distance at our places of work. But we can come close by being intentional about reconnecting with friends and colleagues, and by seeking out opportunities to make new connections.
You may be thinking, “what is the point of this effort?” The benefits are manifold. It may be that (re)connecting with someone leads to business. But what’s even more gratifying than the prospect of new business is the opportunity to make a genuine connection. These connections can become points of light in our day. They make us smile, bring us joy and keep us humming.
So, why not a look at the photos on your phone, rummage through your contacts, and send out a few texts to friends and colleagues you haven’t spoken to in a while. What you get in return may surprise you. Also, to those of you who organize online events and/or meetings, consider pairing up attendees so they can bump into someone new (virtually). They’ll see it as a value-add and they’ll appreciate your willingness to create a chance encounter for them.
And, for those of you willing to serve as a virtual matchmaker, we have an app for that!
Postscript: My two matchmaking sessions with the Arizona Chamber members put a big smile on my face and exceeded all expectations. I met Byron A Roman first. He’s a mortgage loan officer in the Phoenix area, probably the coolest on the planet! Last year, his challenge to “bored teenagers” to clean the planet went viral. He recently launched the non-profit organization, Planet A Challenge, to create initiatives for a healthy planet. My next call with Victor Martinez and Antonio Proto, both of Gila Software, was equally outstanding. These guys are smart, personable and approachable. We talked shop for a while and agreed to stay in touch. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to work together. My enthusiasm for Byron, Victor and Antonio brought out my inner-matchmaker. Later that day, I used Connector Street to connect all of them!
Andrea Tinianow is a Delaware attorney and founder of the Connector Street app.
Andrea is a frequent speaker on a range of topics related to networking, innovation, blockchain technology and the law. You can learn more about her here. Watch Andrea’s TedX talk here. Read her Forbes.com articles here.
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