7 lessons about networking I learned at a 15-year college reunion

Most of us had last seen each other 15 years ago, at our graduation ceremony. Yet, here we were, giving each other high fives and warm hugs while struggling to remember our names. For me, it was a mixed bag of emotions. There was excitement and happiness to meet some friends, yet there also was anxiety and apprehension. I expected the usual banter about jobs, designations, and million dollar bonus packages.

But, 15 years is a long time. The race we are running seems to have changed. Haha, we MBA's are too competitive to not be running some race or the other! Yet, there was none of that usual banter. This was a new orbit. We were relaxed. We were just connecting with each other. We wanted to understand and explore.

Here are some lessons I learned about connecting with people at the 15-year reunion of our batch at IIM Ahmedabad:

1. Don’t judge people. Many of my good friends are people who I never once spoke to during the two years we studied together. We connected only after passing out.

2. Have one to one conversations. Don’t just be in a group. Just reach out and say hi. Be yourself. Tell them your story. People open up if I open up.

3. Don’t underestimate yourself. People don’t know what you have done and who you are. When you underestimate yourself, they will never know.

4. Find a project. Even something as simple as moving some chairs around or creating a playlist for the party; doing something together is the best way to connect with people.

5. Don’t assume what they are thinking. No one is thinking about you. In fact, they are wondering what you are thinking about them. Ask them what is on their mind these days.

6. People want to do good. Find out what good they are already doing, and what good they want to do. We underestimate how much good there is in the world.

7. Learn. Everyone has something to teach. Ask them. And then, listen. Everyone loves to give some ‘gyaan'!

I’m feeling very glad and grateful to be connected to these wonderful people. Now, I want to go deeper and understand people better.

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