In business, like in history, no one writes about the losers, they write about the leaders, the winners, those lucky enough to have been at the right place at the right time, met the right person, and then managed to build the next greatest company, built a great product, or did something that changed the world. They often cite these people as being lucky, or having been in the right place at the right time. Serendipitous.
What they fail to mention is that serendipity isn’t in fact all that serendipitous. The serendipity you experience, or lack, is directly correlated to how you go about creating it.
What do I mean by creating serendipity?
At the last First Growth Venture Network event, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jeff Pulver when this very topic came up – the question presented was, “How do you get in front of the right people and create serendipity?” How do you manage to meet the CEO of XYZ Inc. in order to pitch them? In response, Jeff had a great comment, “You make your own serendipity.”
He was absolutely right. We dove in deeper and what he meant was this: If you’re sitting in your office or home office and you expect to meet people – forget it, it’s just not going to happen. If you’re going out networking at the latest “New Agency Meetup” – the people you’re going to be meeting are all in the same boat as you. It’ll be the same people all vying for the same slice of the pie and providing you with little to no value for your time. In order to get in front of the right people you have to first figure out where they’re going to be and then how to get in their way.
It was now Andy Hunt’s turn to chime in. When he was starting a successful fashion company, they actively asked their network where the influencers in NYC fashion could be found, they made schedules and then they literally just approached them on the street. “Tom, no way! How funny you’re at Argo Tea, I love your work, if you have a minute I’d love to see what you think of my new widget” – ergo serendipity. John “just” met Tom at a café, that’s how the business got started is what you’ll read, the truth – entirely different.
It’s not just knowing where to meet people, but when and how. Say you’re at a tech conference – everyone is doing business on the floor. You have a minute to give your spiel, then move on to someone. This will typically result in a lot of acquired business cards and no one remembering you for who you are, what you do, and what did you say your product or business was again? Now approach this from a different angle. You’re at the conference, you scope out who’s there and what they’re doing, attend a few panels, but you do your talking at the hotel lobby bar. You find the person that you want to talk to, have a meaningful conversation about the industry, and discuss how your business can help theirs and vice versa.
Not only have you just made serendipity happen, but you’ve also left a memorable impression on the person. You’re now a recognizable face, not a business card. Do you have any good tips on how to make serendipity happen or stories to share? We’d love to read your comments.