Recently, I referenced an old blog post of mine, and it made me think of a classic Hollywood line:
“Have your people call my people, and we’ll do lunch.”
I’m pretty sure you know this line. It’s kind of a cliché, actually. What it suggests is people can be so successful and busy that they need their assistants to manage their lives.
Yet, that’s not exactly how I mean it.What I mean is that being successful, in your life and career, is always inside a social context. There are always people who have played or will play a role in your success. Broadly, I see those people as “your people.”
Your people come from your industry, profession, or community. You could think of them as your tribe. Actually, I often use the term “brand community,” and mean all the people relevant to you and for whom you are relevant. That shared relevance means they are your people, and you are one of theirs.
Now, about that lunch…
People bond over meals, so I see “lunch” as literally meeting up to share a meal and chat. Yet, I also see it metaphorically, and believe relaxed conversation can also work across various mediums. So, “lunch” could be chat over the phone, Skype, or Google+ Hangout. However you arrange it, it’s critical to do it. Regularly.
Yes, it takes time. And yes, for many of us, it would be pretty difficult to meet up with everyone in our community. So, here’s what I suggest. Take a look at your contacts and identify the people, in your community, who can support you in achieving your career goals. And from that list, identify people for whom you could offer some genuine support.
Aim for about twenty people to start. Make a list, or tag them on LinkedIn, or put them in a Google+ Circle, or enter them on speed dial. Then get in contact and set up a time to join them for a meal or a virtual get together to catch up. And by “catching up” I don’t mean asking for job or business leads.
Instead, find out what they’re working on. If appropriate, see how you can support them. When they ask about you, let them know what you’ve been up to and what your plans or aspirations are. Remember, it’s relaxed conversation. You won’t get that if you are pushing an agenda.
Based on how lunch goes, plan for follow up. Work through your list, add to it, and work through it again. Over time, you’ll learn things you can apply in achieving your goals, not to mention developing a stronger relationships, and some very solid good will.