All it takes is a cup of coffee…

When you are walking to your office, or walking to grab lunch, through a crowd of people…do you realize that you are surrounded by some smart people? Everyday we probably come in close contact with more than 250-300 people, as we walk from one place to the next. If you live in New York City, Chicago, LA, or other large metropolitan areas…we probably walk pass thousands of people a day. Imagine if you took the time everyday to find one person, one that you have not met and introduced yourself..then bought them a cup of coffee?

Imagine being a student again on college campus, getting up every morning to go to class. It is 8:45am and you are on your way to you 9am class. If you attended a large university with over 15,000 students, you probably pass close to 1000 to 2000 students on your way everyday. Imagine if you left a bit early and picked one person a day and bought them a cup of coffee. You might start a conversation with the next President of the United States, the next GM of Ford Motor Corp, the next religious leader of our time, the next Defense Secretary, etc. What if that person turns out to be a business partner, your lawyer, your minister, your accountant, someone you might do business with one day. College campuses have the greatest potential for human capital and also the greatest potential for building long term relationships.

coffee-class1Now if you take that same principal and place it into your everyday work routine. Imagine taking just a few minutes everyday and meeting someone new. The cup of coffee is just a pathway to a conversation…it is a connection point. So is thaa game of golf or other relationship building tool…just a connection mechanism. But do we really foster those relationships?

Some people are coining this economic situation as one of the worst in decades. Many people are looking for work, struggling to find jobs, resorting to paying people to write resumes or lots of money on technologies like LinkedIn. But do we really get jobs or forge business deals solely on a piece of paper that holds our credentials? People that excel in tough economic times are those who have forged relationships and can pick up the phone to call for help or a favor. They have been building their human network for years and years. All it takes is a cup of coffee.

coffee-class2So each semester, I take one day and make my students follow me to the coffee shop on Clemson’s campus. Today was that day. It was a day to forget about proposals, projects, and grades…it was a day to talk about what it means to leverage those relationships and the greatest potential that walks by them each day during class change.

Are we building our tribe? Are we building our network? What are we passionate about? Everybody has a story to tell…even over a cup of coffee.

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
~Seth Godin