Networking is a loaded topic for many job seekers. Everyone knows they need to do it, but a lot of us hate it.
But what if you could start networking in your everyday life without thinking twice about it? So-called “accidental networking” is a real phenomenon. Basically, it’s what I used to call “being a people person.” It isn’t meant to replace more traditional networking, but it can bring massive value to your career at little effort.
Accidental Networking in Everyday Life
Little moments of connection happen all the time — if you’re open to them. A brief conversation with someone while waiting in line at the bank or a funny exchange at a coffee shop can lead to larger opportunities.
Once, a friend and I had a random conversation with a group of people during lunch in Midtown Manhattan. Once we parted ways with our new acquaintances, I looked at the business card one of them had handed me. I realized I had been speaking with the CEO of a company I was interested in working for! Eventually, I followed up with him, had two interviews, and received a job offer.
Here’s another example: Recently, I was unexpectedly forced to take an Uber. I didn’t feel like spending a lot of money to get where I was going, and I was pretty cranky. While the last thing I wanted to do was share a ride with a stranger, I selected Uber Pool to save a couple of bucks. The Uber arrived with a passenger already in the car. Ugh.
To my surprise, we actually ended up having a really nice conversation. We discovered similarities in our professional lives, and she told me about a friend looking for work whom I could potentially help. You can bet we connected on LinkedIn right there in the Uber!
I left the ride feeling so much better than when the car had initially pulled up. In fact, I was thankful to have had the experience and to have made the connection.
When we don’t have blinders on or headphones in our ears, we can have these kinds of experiences that remind us of our shared existence with our fellow human beings.
If that’s too philosophical, then let me say they’re just pretty cool!
So now I’m challenging you! Be open, take your blinders off, and embrace the small encounters you have every day. Who knows where they might lead you!
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.