Expanding your Network. Is it too Hard?

I met up with a guy that I will be calling John, for the sake of anonymity, for the first time yesterday. I approached John on LinkedIn a couple of days prior.

My message to him when connecting was roughly this:

Hey, John!

How’s it going? I have moved to Toronto quite recently. I’m meeting new people now, expanding my network.

How about meeting up for a coffee sometime next week?


Nothing fancy, just the straight up question.

John was not the only person I tried to connect with. He was among about a dozen people that LinkedIn recommended and I found to be interesting. But he was the only person to respond from that bunch. In fact, the second “group” produced only one response which boils down to “yeah, thank you, but no thanks!”.

Frankly, I wasn’t really surprised. I’d figured that the more successful people would be more open to making new connections. Those that deal with their day-to-day struggles don’t really have much willpower left over to step through the uncomfortableness of the ‘first date.’ However, John definitely seemed to be one of the most accomplished people that I was about to talk to.

We met at a coffee shop two blocks away from my place. Although John is worth millions of dollars, one would never pick him out of the crowd. He was dressed well, looked good but apparently was not attempting to stand out by his looks when glanced over. Although he started asking me questions right away, I did my best to shift the conversation towards him instead.

John is a CTO and co-founder of a local startup here in Toronto. He and his co-founder started working together about 7 or 8 years ago in San Francisco. They were among the first people to grasp the vastness of options that this newly emerging market of mobile was presenting.

Their first 4 startup efforts failed, their 5th was a success. They now generate millions of dollars in revenue and employ about a hundred people across a couple of countries. Not having raised any venture capital, they are not looking to sell their company even now. Instead, they’ve felt that now is a good time to expand horizontally rather than going even deeper into their narrow-ish space.

I listened to his story carefully and tried to take in as much as possible. I wanted to learn from his successes as well as his mistakes. I also wanted this meeting to make both of us better people.

There is a Chinese saying that goes something like this:

No one who rises before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.

I think that in this day and age, it can be rephrased to:

No one who meets many thriving people fails to make his family rich.

I also think that every decision has an ultimate monetary value even though we may not always be able to establish it.

How much was my meeting with John worth? You never know how this or that connection would manifest itself later on. I’d say that on average such a meeting is probably worth at least a $1000 dollars in the long run.

Was meeting someone more successful hard? Frankly, it wasn’t. Yeah, I was a bit anxious, but in the end, it was a lot of fun. It didn’t take much time, and it’s something that I for sure will keep doing and so should you.

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