I am constantly amazed by how frequently life provides valuable lessons when we least expect them. I’m currently traveling for work. After a particularly long day of flights and driving recently, I arrived at my destination, checked into the hotel, lugged my bag to the room, opened up the door and ran smack into a couple who had already checked into the very same room.
Needless to say, all three of us were startled, but they kindly offered me the use of their phone to avoid walking back to the front desk to sort out the issue. The front desk clerk informed me that someone would meet me in the hall with a new set of keys and a new room. I thanked the couple and retired to the hall to meet the bellman.
A few minutes later, I was still waiting. One member of the couple left the room in search of ice. On his way back, he said “Are you still here? Don’t just stand here in the hall, come in while you wait.”
Assuming he was just going through the motions, I politely declined. He then said, “Don’t be silly! Come on in and let’s get you a cocktail. There’s no point standing in the hall.”
At that moment, it occurred to me that such random acts of kindness (and generosity) are often lost in our modern world. It was a nice change of pace to have someone extend that kind of hospitality with no underlying motive. I accepted his offer and entered the room for a drink.
Here’s where the point of the story comes in. In just the few minutes that I spent waiting for the bellman, I learned that not only had the couple once lived in my hometown, but one of them had worked for a company literally blocks away from my front door. How strange that such a chance encounter would introduce me to not one, but two interesting people who I had so many things in common with. Though we didn’t speak for long, I left the room with 2 more connections than I had when I’d checked in. That’s the point of here: performing random acts of kindness can provide you with amazing chances to network and build your professional and social circle.
So many of us are singularly focused on our jobs while at the office that we forget how many other interesting, creative and relatable people work alongside us everyday. While you may not find yourself in the position of offering a stranger a cocktail in your hotel room, remembering to be kind and courteous to those around you will provide you with countless opportunities to meet and get to know people who you might otherwise have missed.
So the next time you’re in the office (or anywhere else) and you see someone who looks lost, confused or even overburdened, don’t ignore them. Engage them, even ask if there’s any way you might be able to help. If you make this a practice in life, you’ll be amazed how many people you meet and what you might have in common. The more opportunities you give yourself to socialize, the more opportunities you’ll have to make the most of your career, and even your life. By practicing random acts of kindness you’ll be keeping yourself engaged in the most important act of any successful career: networking. Remember: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.