COVID-19 has kept many of us quarantined at home with our immediate families.
But that doesn't have to stop us from meeting new people.
Earlier this week, I had four amazing "virtual coffee connects" with people I had never met before.
The four meetings were all with interesting people who had reached out to me on LinkedIn. (Backstory: in addition to publishing this newsletter, I share a lot on LinkedIn. Because I have a lot of LinkedIn followers, sometimes what I write gets a lot of views, and that tends to lead to a lot of connection requests. One of my many quirks is that I won't connect with someone on LinkedIn who I don't actually know, but when the person sending me the request is local and it seems like we might have a few things in common, I'll ask if they're interested in meeting for coffee.)
Pre-COVID, I'd schedule a "coffee day" downtown once or twice a month. If you're an efficient scheduler -- as I tend to be -- you can find yourself a table at your favourite coffee shop, sit down for a few consecutive hours, and have people meet you one after the other. (I pay rent for my seat with multiple coffee purchases. Fortunately, I have a very high caffeine tolerance.)
In-person "coffee connect" meetings aren't possible these days.
But we have Zoom.
After all, the coffee isn't the point anyway. It's the "connect" that matters.
All you need is a willingness to put yourself out there and ask.
The worst-case scenario is that they ignore your request, or they reply to you and say no. A brief moment of rejection, and then you shrug your shoulders and move on.
But the best-case scenario is that you meet some really interesting people who could turn into business partners, career accelerators, mentors, or friends.
You have almost nothing to lose, and so much to potentially gain.
And here's the best part: after eight weeks in near-isolation, most people are going stir-crazy at home. So asking them to break their usual routine and speak with someone new will likely sound like a pretty good offer right about now.
Try it and see.