Get more kismet, or making your own opportunity

Getting more opportunities to change your destiny might seem to be a dangerous choice if you are focused on loss aversion. But making more decisions (and creating additional ways to succeed and to fail) is another way of increasing your learning, opening more doors, and what Rand Fishkin calls “manufacturing serendipity.”

To folks worried about losing their time, the process of spending “at least 30% of my days filled with coffees, calls, and communication to folks outside the company from whom I’m seeking absolutely nothing and where my goal is merely to be helpful” might be ludicrous. But think of it this way: meeting new people ensures new opportunities. New opportunities beget other opportunities. And you can always choose whether to act upon (or merely think about) those opportunities.

My small contribution to this idea of manufacturing serendipity is to make a practice of introducing people in my contact universe. How does it work? Easy – every day I think either about questions people have asked me (“Do you know someone who is an expert in the non-profit world in Seattle”) or people who should know each other (“I’m new in town, and I’m wondering who would be some great people to meet”), or friends who are seeking new team members (“I need a professional Yak Herder who also knows Ruby on Rails.”)

The resullt? Between two and five personal introductions a day that have the following components:

  • The who – who are you meeting?
  • The why – why would this person be interesting to know?
  • The what – what is something that they are likely to be able to do for you?

The feedback that I’ve gotten from people who’ve been introduced this way is that this technique provides them with a great opportunity to connect, relevant context to make a better connection, and more opportunities to meet cool people.

What is an example of this sort of introduction?

An example might look like “Mary, meet John – he’s a Product Manager in Seattle who gets things done with a smile and is a great resource for learning more about Agile techniques. You should know John because he’s been a part of several small companies in the space and because he recently published an article in Fast Company – here’s a link.” I’d write a similar paragraph to introduce “Mary” to “John” and then step away and let them meet.

The goal of facilitating this introduction is just that – starting the conversation. I believe in manufacturing serendipity by connecting some of the amazing people I’ve met and making more of these connections every day. Is it work? A little, and it also increases the chance of meeting people who will enlighten and enhance your life (who you just haven’t met yet.)

Postscript – you should also read Fred Wilson’s excellent piece on the Double-Opt-In introduction, which as Dan Shapiro points out in the comments is an even more effective way to introduce people by making sure that they both want to be introduced – thanks, Dan, for the suggestion!

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3 thoughts on “Get more kismet, or making your own opportunity

  1. Hi Greg – I love introducing people too. But one important bit I don’t see you mention is making sure the introductions are welcome. For example, if an investor asks me to introduce them to a certain startup, I will either ask the startup first, or forward a message from the investor along with my thoughts about why they’re a great person to meet.

    I don’t think it’s right to give either party the other’s contact information until I know that both parties want it. This is really important, since many of the most interesting people are unable or unwilling to take introductions to everyone.

    It’s a bit more work, but I find it’s worth it.

    • Dan – thanks for the thoughts – I appreciate your perspective and absolutely agree that for some people, having a brokered introduction is the only way they would like to meet. The introductions are always more effective for those people when you ask in advance. There are others that I know who are much more open to meeting as long as they find the contact relevant, and I’m more willing to take a chance that I can provide the right contact. But again, absolutely agree with your sentiment.

      (and a post-script – added a link to Fred Wilsons AVC blog post so that folks won’t miss it)

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