Yesterday I celebrated my second Canada Day across the pond with a group of Canadians I met over the time I was here. At one point, we were trying to figure out how we knew each other and the consistent theme was we all had met through a friend of a friend from back home. In fact, I was reminded by one of my now close friends that we had actually met last year on Canada Day and although it’s been just one year, I feel like I’ve known her forever.
We all always hear about the importance of networking but more so in the context around career but the power of a network is just as useful outside of that. For me particularly, it was clearly useful when moving abroad, not just through making friends but finding a place to live, getting advice about travel, tips for where to go out etc. It reminds me of one of my favourite movie quotes:
“It’s not what you got. It’s who you know and what they got!” – Maid in Manhattan
I don’t call it networking though; I call it making new friends and one thing that was apparent to me when I was in Toronto was how much time I was spending with the same people and sometimes, the same type of people. I remember one occasion where I met someone at an event I was working at. She had just moved to Toronto from Europe, all by herself and we had exchanged contact details hoping to meet up.
We never met up.
The fault entirely lies with me. At that time, I was working while I was in school and already had my set groups of friends that I would hang out with when I did have time in between work and school. I was caught up in the routine of what I already had going for me but the reality was, I could have definitely met up with her if I really wanted to.
Flash forward to when the roles reversed, when I was suddenly the new girl moving to Europe from Toronto. I was the one now exchanging details with people hoping to meet up and hear from them. Similarly, sometimes I wouldn’t hear back from people or wouldn’t be given their time to get to know them more and I understood why – they all had their lives already in motion while I was trying to rebuild one and elbow my way into theirs.
A friend of mine recently asked me if I thought we would be friends if we met in Toronto instead of in London. The truth is, at the time, probably not – and it would be a shame.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou
What I know now is that, at least for me, it all comes down to people. Think about it – whether you’re creating art, starting a business, traveling the world, giving back to the community – it all comes down to people. How they live, what they think, what they feel, how they make you feel, what you learn from them, what you experience with them, what they desire, what they inspire…it all comes down to people. So why don’t we try to get to know more of them?
As I have learned and am still learning is that it takes time and it takes effort – both at your choosing. I make it more of a habit now to reach out to new people and to share my time and experiences with them. We can end up making friends for the time being and making friends for the long term – you’ll never know the value and longevity either way without the ingredients of time and effort.
So I challenge you to make a new friend. Someone outside of your usual circle and see where it takes you. You may be surprised. It could end up being just one fun night out or if you’re lucky, you can end up knowing them for a year but feeling like you’ve known them forever.