Be it big or small, every idea has people behind it. People building it. People selling it. People dreaming it. Humanity drives the world forward.
In my quest to accelerate learning and make the world a better place, I realized, early on, that people would be at the core of my professional, social, and personal development.
I’d say the only proven shortcut in life is people. Your network can help you level up fast. It’s important for growth, and having one can dramatically help you chase and accelerate your wildest ambitions.
Finding people and building a network, however, is not always the easiest thing.
If you are anything like me, with no “family-connections” to the professional world, it can feel like a super daunting task.
“Everyone and their parents have jobs already lined up for them…How am I supposed to compete?”
“I do not go to an Ivy League so how am I supposed to get that job?”
I’ve written about networking, and how you can do it, many many times. Here are a few resources that can be helpful:
How I went from being a stranger to having a network in Silicon Valley
Of all the generic advice I’ve received in my life, “go meet as many people as you can,” is perhaps the most common.
This essay, however, is more or less focused on making friends online.
Say what? My parents told me never to meet strangers online.
I know it sounds crazy, even writing it now. But, believe it or not, these “internet friends” have been perhaps the biggest accelerant of my personal growth.
Literally complete strangers that I have met via Twitter and Product Hunt have fundamentally changed the way I think, what I think about, and how I view the world.
I am conflicted on what to really call these people. Really they are just friends. But they are friends I have never met in person before.
They are people (I think, off chance that maybe some are robots) who I have spent hours and hours talking to and building things with.
People generally freak out when I tell them this…
“You build things with people you have never met before?!? What are you doing? How is this possible?”
Take this example:
A few months ago, an “internet friend” and I launched a chrome extension on Product Hunt.
Crazy thing— this person and I had NEVER spoken on the phone before. We had never met in person before. We literally do not know each other.
We met in a Slack Group. We sometimes talk about tech and the future sometimes just via chat. We bounce ideas off of each other.
And one day…BOOM. This extension was made. (kinda how it went)
Now it has over 4000 users and is growing daily!! It got 1200+ upvotes on Product Hunt. It did awesome!
One night, at like 11 PM I texted a separate “internet friend” about this crazy idea to launch a website “Celebrating Immigrants.” It was on a complete whim. We had never met before. Never talked on the phone. We met on Twitter via DM.
But we did it.
The page got 20K + page-views in a week. It was featured on Mashable & The Independent.
I KNOW! Crazy?!?
I am not saying it is best to work with people you have never met before. I am just saying that some rules are often meant to be broken.
And you never know the extent to a rule unless you try and bend it.
But wait…Why not just work with people I know?
- I honestly did not know people capable of building things like this. I grew up in Arizona. Go to school in St. Louis. I could not find people who really shared my interest. So what did I do? I did not give up. I did not say…”I need to raise money so I can go hire a developer.” I simply went to find the people that I needed. I knew they were out there. The world is a big place. I just had to put a little work in to find them.
- This one is a bit more subtle but I believe very true: Working with all types of people teaches you how to become a better communicator. It teaches you how to empathize with others who come from a very different background from you.
It teaches you to be human.
I believe that people of all kinds each have their own unique way of living life. Figure out what makes people tick. And help them find fulfillment.
These are just two of MANY examples. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve met (hundreds) via simple, yet powerful Twitter direct messages.
There is no recipe you can follow, you just gotta go for it. It sounds crazy. I know. But, with a bit of luck and good faith, it works.
I am going to stop calling these people “internet friends.” Let’s call them friends. And let’s keep these conversations going.
I’ll conclude by saying:
THANK YOU. Seriously. Thank you.
Countless times, complete strangers have taken incredible chances on me! Without even really knowing me?!? They “hopped on the phone” with me just because I asked somewhat nicely.
I am forever grateful for that and always happy to pay it forward.
Take the first step and reach out to someone you may not know! It’ll be worth it, trust me.
Thanks for listening to my story! I write blog posts every single day :)
Email me — jordangonen1 at gmail dot com
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