I had breakfast with an old friend last week. Actually I had dinner with him as well…he just didn’t realise. I was out having a superb outdoor evening meal with my family…we were just trying to decide if we were going to treat ourselves to desert…when my old friend sat down next to us. He had his back to us – not being rude I hasten to add – just sitting so he was looking at his wife! He didn’t see us. I didn’t see him initially, but rather I thought recognised his voice, and when I glanced over I recognised him as well.
I hadn’t seen him for the best part of three years so I definitely wanted to say hello. But I didn’t want to interrupt his evening (or ours for that matter) so I didn’t say anything until we were about to leave. As I passed his table, I put my hand on his shoulder, said hello and immediately put my hand out to shake his.
He was fine. Surprised but fine. My wife and children were amazed. They assumed he was a stranger in the restaurant and – apparently – they thought I was about to offer some ‘trip advisor-like’ advice on menu choices! They realised we knew each other immediately we started talking. I was pleased to see him and we agreed to connect via LinkedIn.
We had breakfast later in the week. Breakfast allowed me to be out and back before my family woke up. But it also provided a great chance to re-connect and catch up with each other. Three years is a long time.
The amazing thing I have (re)discovered is that networks are virtually unconditional. Unconditional in so much as that my old friend and I have had no contact with each other directly or indirectly for three years…and yet we were both delighted to invest our time to meet for breakfast (after the chance meeting at dinner). Unconditional since we met because we could and because we wanted to rather than because we had to. My only agenda as I arrived was to not eat too much and to avoid getting sun burnt. My friend’s was simply to reconnect (and probably a bit of the same about food and sunshine).
And it is amazing how much fun this sort of networking is. In total it was about 90 minutes. We could have talked for much longer. There was lots of reminiscing about people, situations, projects…and even more about people in those situations and projects. We laughed a lot. Sometimes in amazement and sometimes in amusement.
And it is wonderful how these memories are always so good. I am sure that my old colleague and I had some disagreements, but I don’t remember any of them…and neither (apparently) did he.
And it is good how positive I felt as I left. Positive about myself. Positive about my friend. Positive about what we had done together and positive about how we had done those things together. And in addition I didn’t eat too much (very hard) or get too much sun (easier).
And it is intriguing how often I leave such networking sessions with more opportunities and more ideas than when I arrive. Last week was no exception. As we talked through what we had done together, talked over what we’ve been doing since we last met, we inevitably moved onto what we are looking to do in the future. And that’s where unexpected – but potentially very exciting – opportunities always appear.
Networking is always a good – no a great – investment to make…I knew this…breakfast last week just reminded me.