Networking at lunch... or the creation of new friendships?

Still on the rush of the Websummit in Lisbon (50,000 nutheads from all over Europe that have invaded the city from morning to morning every single day this week), I take home some unexpected tips:

+ the future doesn’t belong to large companies only. When it comes to startups, we talk about excited people who devote day and night to their projects, from a lovely little shop in the center of Verona to a new book that tells the story of a heroine like us.

+ Lisbon is a beautyful city. I already knew that, huh. Its beauty is made of people welcoming those with different cultures and a thousand different colors of skin.

Pasteis are addictive. If you’ve tried them, you know that. If you haven’t, let’s just say they’re worth the trip.

+ networking isn’t working, your smile and openness are. The badge with a name on it is worth nothing if there is no desire to open up. Being crammed on a plane doesn’t mean getting in touch with others. A trade fair, an event, a concert, a bar, a bus: containers of people who can choose to be amazing and say hello to their neighbors. And if it happens, just like it happened to me and Nic this week, it can lead to life-changing encounters.

+ travel with a friend who is more outgoing than us. He’ll push your comfort zone and chat with anyone, from Zuckerberg to the lady next to you. And next time, we could be that friend.

Networking is useless

Don’t stop at exchanging business cards, make a joke. Don’t send an email, ask them about their fears. Don’t sit with the usual colleagues, go together to meet new people. Do we really believe that our job consist of sorting emails, able of put them into folders and store everything because “you never know”? What if we used the time to shake a new hand, to overcome our shyness and inadequacy in order to create new bridges?

Homework for the weekend – meet new friends

When was the last time we interacted with the person sitting next to us?

It’s time to start again.

This is the right weekend to talk with other people waiting in line, like us. Ask an ATM controller how he they’re doing. Tell a friend to bring someone along to dinner tonight. Write an mail to our favorite book’s author, explaining why they changed our lives. Introduce ourselves to someone on the train. Sit at the big table at the tuber festival and chat with those sitting next to us.

Believe that we’re making a fool of ourselves, while we’re doing the exact opposite.