Taking random meetings does matter: serendipity in business

By Scott Torrance

I had talked a lot about the importance of serendipity in life, and how the interesting things happen in the grey areas between neatly defined silos, but it wasn’t until I read a post by Gary Vaynerchuk that it moved beyond philosophical ramblings, to concrete, purposeful action that had a significant impact in my business life. He talked about why taking random meetings matters, and why he embraces serendipity in business.

The night before I read this post I had received an email requesting a meeting with an acquaintance who I have had many interesting conversations with in the past that always threatened to turn into work but never quite materialised.

I was in the very early stages of establishing my new business (moving house and welcoming my first child into the world) and as such had a lot to do. Perhaps understandably my initial reaction had been to turn down the invite.

However, after reading the post and the resulting conversation on Twitter, I decided to accept the challenge and accept the meeting and go in with zero expectations. The moment I did I instantaneously felt good.

Too much business advice treats meetings and people in a very transactional manner – looking at the ROI of a meeting and only accepting a meeting if there is direct benefit (that can be realised in the short-term).

While it is undoubtedly important to safeguard your time and be efficient with your efforts, we can all too often forget that business is all about relationships and these can only flourish if we treat each person as individuals and not a transaction to be optimised.

For me it is the intent that is important. If you turn down a random meeting because you genuinely don’t have the time, that is okay. However, if you are turning down the meeting because you cannot see a direct benefit to yourself then you are shutting yourself out of a world of possibility that lives in the ‘grey space’ between the silos we are so fond of building. That is a slippery slope my friend.

Upon reflection I also recognised that the most interesting and pivotal moments in my business career had happened when I embraced serendipity with no expectations.

Not only did accepting the meeting give me a warm fuzzy feeling and make me feel more human, it also resulted in the first client for my new business.

So a big thank you goes out to Gary for reminding me of what is important in business and for giving me the nudge to take action.

It is my turn now to lay down the gauntlet and challenge you to go ahead and accept that next random meeting. Who knows, you may enjoy it and if not it could result in a wee bit of extra business or a new job opportunity.

Who knows? That is the fun bit.