I have a theory that we all plan far too much. Too much planning leads to procrastination and closes down on random opportunities that could be massively to our benefit. So from time to time I decide my plan will be random. Nothing booked nothing decided I will just turn up at an event and see what happens.
On my birthday in 2014 I went to a meeting of the Professional Speaker Association in London. I paid little attention to the format or the guest list. I had a plan and that was to be random. I would randomly talk to people who I could. I would not seek out people I knew but of course if I saw them I would talk.
Randomness has several advantages. Firstly for the timid networker it takes any pressure off your plan. I hear of people who plan to meet with 5 key people that they have identified from the guest list and to have 6 one to one meetings in the day. It is a great plan to be productive but sometimes what I see is people rushing from one “appointment” to another and not spending the right amount of time with some people, both too much and too little. With a random plan, this is not possible. Secondly it allows you to find people you would not have otherwise spent any time with.
At the event there was a session called “Meet the Pro’s” The PSA had lined up 9 experts in their fields and the idea was that you could meet with 2 of them for a mini master class. First up I met with Anthony Sears “The Telephone assassin” (http://www.anthonystears.co.uk). I do know Anthony and I wanted to hear what he had to say as it is an area where what he has to say is fascinating.
Next I just did a random act of networking and just sat down at a table. This table belonged to Nidhi Nasula (@Nidhi_Narula), who I did not know and I had no idea what her topic was. Nidhi ran her session of branding and design for speakers and to begin with I thought what have I done? Maybe I should have had a plan “I don’t need this session”. What followed from Nidhi was a true master class and a unique take on how speakers can use graphics to “talk another language” to their audience. I was fascinated.
It turns out that like me Nidhi lives in Newbury and we agreed to meet up for a coffee. What she showed me will change the way that I present to audiences and it was one of the best parts of the whole day.
So for me random worked that day. Random will not always work but when it does it gives you something that you were not expecting and that is very exciting. So next time you are struggling with your plan just pop in some random time and see what happens when you commit a random act of networking.