If you want to network better, you need to become better at creating better (and more) loose connections!
This is a rehash of an old SoG Letter that I wrote way back in Jan 2019. Original here.
So, what is ‘Loose Connections‘?
There are two kinds of connections that you make when you network professionally.
A, Strong bonds. These are people that you implicitly trust. These are the people that will have your back in case you are stuck. These will stay with you through thick and thin. These typically are people who you grew up with, the ones that say next to you in college, the ones that you hang out with on a daily basis. And so on and so forth.
B, Loose connections. These are people who are at a 2nd or 3rd-degree of separation from you. These are the people that you wave at, at the water cooler in your office. These are the ones that you know live in your building but aren’t really friends with. These are the ones that you respect but for some reason, you’ve kept a distance.
So why do I talk about loose connections?
I really, sincerely, honestly, dil se believe that these loose connections are more powerful than your strongest bonds when it comes to pushing professional / work agendas.
At least in my life, I have seen these loose connections giving me more work, leading me to more opportunities and opening more doors for me than the best of my friends with their best intentions could.
From things like my first book to my blogs to job opportunities to freelance gigs, I can track them back to a combination of strong bonds and loose connections working together.
What about you? Which “kind” of connections has helped you in the past?
And as I go along, I am actively working on creating a super large pool of these loose connections. You know, like they, I know a guy that knows a guy? That!
And how do you forge these loose connections?
Simple. Go out and seek such opportunities.
For example, a few days ago, I went out with a few folks that I connected with on Twitter. In that group of people that hung out together, we had three travel enthusiasts, one legal expert, one stand-up comic, a videographer, a digital nomad, and one right-hand person for one of the leading fashion designers in the country. It was an eclectic bunch and the conversations had the best that I’ve ever had in life!
And how do you create opportunities?
Here are three steps that I have used in the past.
1. Identify the thing that you want to work on. Identify the top 1% of people in that trade. And identify the kind of work you want to do.
For example, I am working on this film these days. And for that, I need to know EVERYONE that is in the trade that is in the top 1%. And because I want to be on the business side of films, rather than looking at people like Amitabh Bachchan, I am keen on talking to people like, say, Manish Mundra. Or Sandip Bhargava.
2. Look at the kind of people that these people talk to. Get into a conversation with those people.
These Manishs and Sandips of the world would be busy and may have very limited time to give. There is absolutely zero chance that these people would talk to me. But the people that work for, work with, work under these people would be a little more approachable. And thus I can get into a conversation with these guys a tad more easily.
3. Add value.
This is the most important part. Rather than mere chit-chatting with them and getting into a social conversation, can you add value? Look for things that they are stuck with. Open those doors. You know, be that loose connection that could help them untangle things that they are grappling with. And don’t do this with the intention of getting something in return. Add genuine value to people. Be of real help. Open doors. And then sit back and let the magic happen.
Do let me know what you think. Oh, and read Go Giver. Really.
A list of things on the top of my head. This includes money, twitter, movement, Dr. Peterson and more.
6:42. Just woke up.
Less than a month to go when I leave this house. Couldn’t be happier. I just hope the next one I get to is better than this one. I think the way to make it better would be to find a house in a new building, on a higher floor with little furniture in it. Let’s see when I do that. Not till Diwali for sure. But whevever I do, these variables have to be kept in consideration as primary. And then secondary ones will include things like access to a Starbucks, commercial / cultural hubs, promixmity to whoever is the friend at that time. Etc. etc.
Chalo, lets start the day. And with things that I am thinking about.
Lemme start with the thing from the top of my head. Money. Mine. And others. Others that work with me.
Thing with money is, it enables you to do more. It makes you free. It gives you access to things that you did not have otherwise access to. It helps you push things and go into unchartered places. It helps you grow. It gives you confidence to do more things. It is the thing that moves you. Plus, the world also works in a funny way. It rewards people that alreday have the money! I mean it’s the rich that can create opportunties and make more money along the way. Of course a few poor ones make money as well but those are that. Few. Few and far between. Generally it’s the rich. Money gets you more money.
Ok. I am getting into a rant. Lemme track back. And talk about the money for others that I work with.
So, I am directly responsible for a team of almost 13 people. Indirectly many more. But these 13 people, I am their primary source of revenue. Each month, on the month end, I am thinking about how would I pay these people on time. Somehow it works out!
And no, I dont pay them a lot of money but I do pay them as much as I can. I know that it’s not enough. Not even enough for them to buy a coffee at Starbucks on a daily basis (what I do!). And I want to change this. I want to be in a utopian world where everyone has the money they need to live life the way they want to. You know, not worried about meeting the basics.
Thing is, I want to pay my people enough so that they can live happily and engaged and all that. I am lucky that most people I work with understand where I come from, see that I am doing the best I can and thus they support me. I am sure they feel the lack of money (I feel!) but they dont complain.
The thing is, this house of cards hangs precariously on my ability to get work. Last year, during the pandemic, the house literally crumbled and if not for a few friends that extended loan and gave me work, I would probably be forced to let go of people. That time’s passe.
Now that I have some work on my plate, I need to find opportunities to grow, make more and then make some more. And of course use whatever I make to support my people. Again in the best way possible.
Thing is, money is never enough. It’s like playing a game. You know, you reach a certain level. And then you want to move up to the more difficult and advanced ones. Similarly, you reach a certain stage in life and you want more from there on. And money fuels this never-ending ride that keeps going to the moon and beyond. And I dont want to be that rich dad that just keeps giving without a concern for how that is being spent. So, I have to be this judicious old man that can predict how much a certain person with their personalty and lifestyle needs. And wants. And then, I want to give them more than their needs. And yet, not feed their wants.
The other thing is that most people I work with are in this (with me) because they see me as someone who’s got his heart at the right place. So that’s a good thing. Plus, most of these are in it for their respective passions (and not just to have that “work-life” balance thing going for them). And I anyway want to run my team, my setup as an entrepreneurial one where each person owns the thing they work on. Even if there is no money to be made per se. They must own a piece of thing they work on. I want to show them the “the vast and endless sea” and make them “to yearn” for that.
Ok. Moving on.
B. Dr. Peterson
I am back to seeing Jordan Peterson’s videos. There’s this pattern that I’ve spotted. Everytime I am little fucked about things, work or otherwise, YT throws either Peterson or Seneca at me. Really. So I dont know how the algorithm knows how I am feeling but it does!
So, Dr. Peterson is controversial but his takes are fascinating and I think I like what he says. I am still not deep into what he says and I only see edited, highlights version of what he preaches but I can relate to a lot that he says. From male dominance to power to relationships to individuality and more. I wish I could attend some sort of a long-form course where he talks about life and philosophy and all that. I saw these videos over yesterday…
Fuck, the range of people that I am influenced by is so wide. Steve Jobs, Dandapani, Jordon Peterson!
Anyhow. Moving on. To movement.
In other news, I was talking to someone yesterday and I realised that I am a doer and a lazy bum at the same time.
Doer – I like to make things move. You know, cause movement.
Lazy – I dont want to do things myself. I’d rather put in some people to manage those ideas.
So this combination makes me a weirdo. Need to think more on this as I go along. Could be important. #note2self
D. No Twitter
So, I havent been on twitter for some 10-12 days now.
I do check it but I dont post it. I dont engage with people. I dont expect replies. I dont mindlessly scroll what people are posting. I dont bookmark threads hoping to never revisit / read those.
This staying off has been good. And bad. Lemme try to tabulate things.
Bad. Twitter was like my mouth piece. My echochamber. I would let a lot of unfiltered thoughts move onto paper in shape of tweets. And then basis of feedback (if any) I get from my followers, I would shape my thoughts and opinions. Now that I dont have Twitter to post emo-tweets and all that, I am thinking about things all the time. I am unable to get negative thoughts out of my mind. And thus I am regurgitating those all the time. You know, from concisous to the back of my head to back to the front again. And it’s not cool. I think I am losing my stoicism! Lol! ;P
Often these thoughts / ideas are temporary flares. You know, a car cuts your rick the wrong way? You want to rant about it quick. You do that on twitter and you move on. So those times, I think twitter served well.
Other times, the thoughts are tad deeper. For example, I am clearly suffering on the relationship front. I have no one to talk to. Twitter was my only solace. So, in past when I suffered, I would put something on twitter to cope up with what’s hurting me. More often than not, this act of writing a tweet and posting was similar to talking to a confidante. I would thus be over whatever was hurting me. So that helped. Muck was out of me. I was ok.
Of course, this temporal messages phenomenon is not good. You dont really go deep. You dont delve and mull over things. Worse. If I dont delve, I merely scratch the surface and I dont go deeper. At the level where I need to solve it. So, I need to fix this. If I am suffering, I need to layer down to the very bottom and try and find an answer to that. And then solve it. Even if, I need to move on, like Dr. Peterson says.
Bad. I no longer have access to a hive brain that can throw back ideas, links, suggestions, connections etc to me. Not cool at all. This probably is the single-largest thing I miss about not being able to post on twitter.
Good. My screen time is drastically lower. Probably at the lowest point in life right now. So that’s great! Need to find a way to keep the screentime low for when I come back on twitter.
So yeah. This is about it. Ya, a lot on my mind! And, here’s streaks…
A quick note where I talk to self. And dump whatever is on the top of my head. Things like people, mentors, work, leverage and more.
7:05. Woke up groggy. And a choked nose. And soreness in the neck. Damn old age. I had decided that I will focus on three things yesterday and do just those. I am glad to say I could manage just one (being sarcastic) and the other two are now overdue. And this means that the three things that I need to work on today will get pushed. And I will miss a few more deadlines. Damn!
I now know what work stress is! In the sense, what the stress of non-delivery is. Need to pull socks and deliver the magic that I am known to have delivered in the past.
So that. There’s nothing else on the top of my mind. Oh, I walked up 8 stories yesterday. I need to be able to do 100 stories everyday without losing breath. The day I can do that is the day I can, well, breathe easy. I also ate three meals yesterday. And that too full of carbs. You know, Pizza. My guilty pleasure. How the F would I lose weight? Yesterday only VG was telling me that for someone my height and age, I need to be lighter by 17 KGs. 17! I don’t even know how I would get to that number. It’s not about starving but probably about burning the calories and then the excess fat.
Chalo, aaj fast. Come what may. Even if stress forces me to order shit and eat as if a famine is coming, I will NOT eat. Neither I would have coffee. Green tea, #ftw!
Apart from these two things (health and work), to be honest, there isn’t much on the top of my head. But then there are a couple of things that happened yesterday that I need to take note of.
One, I spoke to two of my mentors. And my sis. Each conversation was around a certain thing (work, emotion, etc). And while talking to each of these, I felt really really grateful that I have their patronage. And respect. And mindshare. I must have done something incredibly right to have this. Super grateful. Need to grow more such relationships. Where there’s mutual respect, no hidden agendas, and comfort. I know you can’t really do this with people. But I will do whatever it takes to deliver on things from my side to grow into such relationships.
Two, I realized yet again that on the work front (and even on the life front), I don’t want to be the person that executes. I don’t want to trade my time for money (work). I want to rather be the one the opens doors and gets things delivered. I want to be the one that leverages his relationships and trades the knowledge to make ends meet (time). You know, become that person that doesn’t need to have a laptop open ever. I should use my phone, team of people and deliver magic. Now, this is far easier said than done. Especially at the stage where I am at. In the sense, I am still not stable enough to get work that pays me consistently. Most of it comes to be after I put in an insane amount of time and effort. And what I do is not rocket science. So that means that I need to consistently deliver great things to keep the engine running.
In fact, the second one has been a recurring theme. I need to find a thing that can be done about it. Thankfully, with the current scheme of things at work, I have taken a step towards building a team that can do things in my absence. Let’s see when that comes together.
Oh, I have to write this. I was talking to my sis and while talking, I told her that I often abstract myself away from what’s happening to me. I sort of float over my body and look down upon me. I see this 38-year old struggling to make ends meet, trying to get better, striving on a day-to-day basis. And I see a dude trying to be cool, making mistakes, slacking, giving in to temptation on a regular basis. While there are both positives and negatives in the person I see, the abstraction allows me to help the person I am seeing. By giving him inspiration. You know, the kinds I am told I am able to. Others call this phenomenon self-talk. I call this, well, zooming-out. Irrespective. It works. Try it.
So that. That’s it for the day. See you guys tomorrow. I have a lot to do today and tomorrow and this week in general. And here’s streaks…
Day 2 of unfiltered stream of thoughts on how I spent yesterday. And whatever is cluttering my head as I plan for the day ahead.
Hello, I have this slight headache. I think it is because I did not get good sleep. I think it’s a result of the heady cocktail of too much coffee, too much coke (not Diet but regular), too many thoughts, and too little rest. But I think I will be ok. I always get ok. I just need to get going and the humdrum of the day gets me going and I tend to get back to action.
Since this is day2 of the morning pages bit, I am not sure what to write about, lemme talk about how day 1 was, things I did, things I thought about and what did I learn from it.
Board Games. I played this game called Risk yesterday with some people. While the game is fun and I am not sure I would play it again, the lesson was that you can observe a lot about people while they are playing these games.
I knew that how you conduct yourself on a Poker table tells you about how you are as a human being. You may or may not get to play Poker with everyone but you can invite even strangers for board games. And the way they play these games, you could look at serious, long-term decisions like hiring or partnering with them!
While playing the game, you realize who’s gonna cheat, who hates to lose to a point of being unethical, who all are trustworthy, who behaves when they’re being their primal self, and so on and so forth.
COVID. A very good friend got COVID. One of those people that I actually care about. I hope he recovers. He doesn’t know how he got it. And he is one of the cautious ones. I read someplace that at some point in time all of us would get it. We just need to ensure our immunity is good. So that!
Hand of God. For no reason, someone sent me some money that I could use to do something that I have been putting off for a while. Also this some money from someone to do things that I have been putting for a while vicious circle needs to stop! I don’t know the way out but it has to. More on this on EchoChamber.
Chota Hustler. This coworking space in Goa that I work from, they have this guy that’s like a car-salesman kinda hustler. You know, the ones that would goad you into taking a decision that you did not know even know you had to take. The guy’s on the phone all the time and is selling I don’t know what to I don’t know who all. I’d probably know is a few days. Also, I think I need to up the ante on people watching thingy that I so enjoy.
Workout. One of the agendas that I had for this Goa trip was to get fit. I have been here for almost a week now and all I have done is eat crap, sleep in bad posture, work (a lot – really!), and no workout. Even though on the second day here I promptly went to a Decathlon and bought a running tee, a phone holder, and whatnot. Oh, and I have been to the beach a total of 2 times even though I live a 3-minute walk from it.
The thing is, when you think that you’d live and work in Goa, life does slow down (you are not traveling for any meetings – this intra-city travel is what speeds up time I think) but that thought that you have in your head about the charming sunsets and beaches and runs and food and parties and people? Well, at least I did not see it.
I know I know, the Instagram stories narrate a different tale. A close friend and wife are in Goa as we speak and if you see his Insta stories, I kid you not, you would question your existence. Another friend is here and all her stories are all full of poets and muses and people playing guitar, dancing, bonfires, and whatnot. Then a work colleague is also here and his Instagram is full of food that’s been plate like it was a jewel. May be it was. May be people love food so much?
The other thing that is not been happening for me since I have come to Goa is that I have stopped being social on Twitter and Linkedin and all that. These have been a large part of my life and I need to figure out how to get back. I think once I solve the internet issue, I will be ok (I am staying at a mentor’s house and there’s no Internet. And the mobile phone connection that I tether to is slow af).
Oh, I have to talk about dogs. Goa has more strays than it has people. And it’s scary. And it’s unsettling. And it is not fun. I have been barked at, growled at, chased down, stared down at in anger, and whatnot. Since these are strays, I am sure these are not neutralized or something. I think I need to get a proactive Rabbies injection or something. May be I will. Assuming there is someone that actually does some work here, apart from the ones that do not belong here.
That’s the second ‘other thing’ for the post. Most small businesses here complain that the locals do not work. They can but they don’t want to. And the ones that are not from here slog their ass off! And as a result, they are in demand, and locals are left in the lurch. And why would they not be? Free markets reward efficiency! Similar to what I hear about in Mumbai. I don’t know the solution but I would like to fix this if I can. It’s a tough problem to bang your heads on. You need to know psychology, vested interests, education, behavior change, long-term thinking, identity, money, and what not.
I also narrated a character of #book2 to a few friends yesterday. They seemed to like it. This probably is the cue that I need to get started with it? May be. You know, the invisible hand!
The last thing am thinking about before I move on to the next thing for the day is, personal brand for Saurabh Garg. I have been thinking a lot about it and I need to figure it out and move on it. Do I get authentic (these posts are a step in the direction)? Do I get all serious and post only long-form articles that has helped establish people as experts in their fields. Wait, what field do I even belong to? I met another friend-mentor day before yesterday (wow, time flies!) and he asked me to define myself and I had no clue what I stood for! I could talk about all that I’ve done and all I want to but it did not make for a convincing story. Need to work on that. May be will add to the agenda of this Goa trip, for whenever it ends!
With that, its over and out.
Like I said yesterday, please ignore the typos.
And in case you are reading this and you have any thoughts / ideas about any of these things that I spoke about, please do let me know.
Over an out!
PS: Can I add some photos to these pieces? May be. May be not. Let’s see what I decide.