Meet as many people as you can!

I confess this is not something I would have thought to share with you. In fact, I’m that person who hates to meet people…not because I don’t like people; I’m just awkward in groups. I also feel uncomfortable trying to make small talk, and I’m terrible at remembering people’s names. I’ve done a better job of moving outside my comfort zone to meet people and talk to “strangers”, but it still make me feel uncomfortable.

So why then am I including this in my weekly memo? It’s because of something I read in the February edition of Inc., one of the magazines from Next Issue. In an interview with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, he states that he thinks people can create their own luck and he suggests you do that by meeting as many people as you can and really getting to know them.

This reminded me of advice I gave you at different times when you were younger. Sarah did not know anyone in any of her classes when she moved to Osceola Middle School in sixth grade so I told her she was to come home each day and tell me the name of one person she met. Then I’d quiz her daily…who did you meet today? Tell me about her. After about five or six days of this, she finally told me about meeting Kemper. The plan worked out pretty well.

I used a similar strategy with Meghan when she went to UCF. Of course, she roomed with Tiffany so she had a friend, but she needed to meet others. Her instructions were a little different. I asked her to talk to three new people every day. I don’t think this resulted in any long-term friends, but she joined an accounting organization, met some students and professionals and became more confident and comfortable with people.

I’ve never really had to encourage Emily to meet people. In fact, she told me she wanted to go to the University of Miami because she wouldn’t know anyone there. She wanted to meet all new people; so I think she’d agree that by joining groups and meeting people she’s created some luck of her own. Whether working with the Baptist Campus Ministries or Delta, Delta, Delta she met many people and got to know them well.

So back to Tony Hsieh.

He says if you’re in an environment where you’re always running into people, the chances of one of those collisions being meaningful is maybe 1 in 1,000. But if you do it 100 times more, your odds go up. His advice: Meet lots of different people without trying to extract value from them. You don’t need to connect the dots right away. But if you think about each person as a new dot on your canvas, over time, you’ll see the full picture.

I think that’s great advice. My Dad may be the best example of getting out there and meeting people. I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger. He makes friends with people he meets at the horse races, garage sales, and at church. He doesn’t think about how someone he meets may help him further his goals. He just enjoys people…all people. Who would have thought he’d rent a motor home from the butcher at the meat market? I don’t think he expected to play golf with professional football players when he became friends with a coworker. And someone he met at the football booster club later gave Jeff his first job. He’s made some of his own good luck by being a people person.

Get out there. Meet a lot of people. Get to know those you work with. Join organizations. Go to the gym. Enjoy those random contacts and cultivate relationships. Work at creating your own good luck.