“Put a rose in a sack of fish and soon the rose will start to stink too. Be careful of the company you keep.” ~ the 17th Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje

Last week during a writing coaching section with Toronto-based blogger Bee, I was once again reminded of just how instrumental people have been in my journey.

Not only have I been blessed with an amazing family who has never made me feel crazy for doing the things that I do, but I also have some pretty hilarious and supportive friends. But in addition to my inner-circle, many of the very great things that have happened to me over these past few years have almost been a direct result of the awesome people I’ve met.

The increased writing assignments, the opportunities to interview celebrities, getting into print, growing as a writer—each of these things have happened because I made a commitment to network, build genuine relationships, and have great people in my professional circle.

While some folks shy away from meeting others, building my circle both on and offline has resulted many of the gigs I have today. To date, one of my best-paying writing assignments I’ve had came as a result of a recommendation from another writer I initially met online and later met in person. Likewise, I’ve helped other writers “get put on” and connected them with the people I know in order to help them grow as well.

But what happens if you don’t know anybody doing what you want to do? 

Tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and other social networks have made the world much smaller and have made it possible to connect with like-minded folks from all other the world. Take advantage of this.

Because we live our lives digitally, many of the people who may be positions to help you might live thousands of miles away. And while some are weary of connecting with people online, this ain’t 1997 and most of the people you’ll meet online are just as normal and sane as you. So, use the web to your advantage.

Aside from interacting with people on the web, here are a few other places to network:

Conferences: These are GREAT ways to meet people in your field and learn some great information. Try to attend at least once per year.

Alumni mixers: You’d be amazed at what the guy or gal who was in your Freshman year class has been up to. They just might own a business and are looking for someone like you.

Meet-ups: These day people are having meet-ups for everything from natural hair and fashion to business and parenting, so find something you love and go meet some folks.

Networking events: Although some networking events can be intimidating, they can also be great places to connecting with people in your field. Get your business cards ready (Yes, even if you don’t have a business. Just add your name/email), and get out there.

Building your circle out of thin air can seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think. By talking about what you want to do and what you’re passionate about and making a commitment to connect with like-minded people, you’ll find that your personal and professional circle will begin exploding before you know it.

How has your personal and professional circle affected you? Do you have more tips for connecting with others? Please leave a comment and let me know how your friends and colleagues have factored into your success.

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