There’s some people who will change your life, some will know it and change it radically. On the other hand, there are the people that you meet and actually change your life quite a bit too, but might not know, because they only said one sentence that triggered a life change, or they introduced you to someone who changed your life. I had a lot of those moments, like everyone, but I’m going to tell you a few stories. Why? I want you to have a better life, whatever that means for you, by meeting people. Meet people. If you meet people and have honest discussions and relations, I think a lot of great things will happen to you.
Some people will network with tactics, specific objectives or people in mind. I don’t. I never networked in a calculated way. I guess I was just lucky enough to meet a bunch of people with whom there was a fit. Here are some stories I find interesting.
Spreeconf and landing a remote job
In early 2012, I went to the first Spreeconf in New York (that I mostly paid by myself by the way). I learned a ton of stuff which was relevant to my work and helped our Spree project to be a success. It's not all though, I met a bunch of people. In all those hours of meeting people and talking about Spree, there is this dinner…a dinner where I was with a few other guys, we had beers, food and fun. It was just that, a bunch of geeks together having fun. It turns out that I stayed in touch with most of them to a certain degree. First, we all stayed in touch through Spree's chat, helping each other and the community. But there’s more than that. There is one guy, Michael, a guy from France now living in Canada. We got along really well, he’s now maintaining a blog engine I originally wrote. We have occasional Skype calls (been too long now!). There also Josh with whom we almost landed a pretty big contract at the time with the agency I was working with (didn't work out for some reason). Another one, Andrew, who referred me to his friend who was looking for a remote developer, I had the job. It was a long time after, and not related to the conference per se but the time I’ve put on my own personal time on the Spree community, helping people. So, I’ve landed my first remote job, in English (I am French Canadian, I had an awful accent at the time, got much better). The product was impressive (and is still, check them out at handwriting.io). That’s pretty life changing, right? I'm very thankful to him, Sam (his friend) and Eloise (founder of Handwriting.io) for making that happen.
World is small
During that same dinner at the Spreeconf, I also met Ted, from Florida. We spent part of an evening working on something together. Fast forward a year and a half later. I met someone at another conference (Burlington Ruby Conference, awesome conference, you should go!), Robert, who was from Florida, but not even the same city…and I was like: “well, I know one guy in Florida, you probably don't know him but here's his name just in caseReally? Sure I know Ted, he’s going at the Tampa Ruby meetup, seeing him every…” (or something along those lines). Wow, world is sooo small. Or is it Florida? I met those two guys again at another conference almost 2 years later, together! We had burgers that night in Miami Beach. Delicious burgers.
Helping organizing a conference
In late 2010, I started to get involved in the organization of the Web à Québec, it was going to be the first edition. I met a shit ton of great people then. It was not calculated. I just wanted to meet people who, like me, enjoyed the web. This is when most of my network in Quebec City as it is right now started to develop. I'm so thankful for everyone I've met and had thoughtful and engaging discussions with.
I've also spoke at that conference for the last 3 years, but that's another story! :) I spoke about distributed teams and startups. By the way, I'm going to do free email courses about those subjects, subscribe to my blog to receive the announcements before everyone else. First one is launching soon! Ok, let's get back on track now...
Landing my best job ever
RubyConf, 2013. My wife was pregnant but I decided that I was due for a conference (and she was fine with it). My employer at the time told me they could not pay for a conference but that I could take a few days off...fair enough, I decided to go on my own! It was awesome. November here in Quebec is starting to get cold and snowy, so Miami for a week would be awesome for that too, but meeting people and working from Miami would be terrific! It happens that I met a bunch of people there, some that I've met online before (IRC, email, Hangout with beer & whiskey) and some new friends. I've solidified relationships with people I knew before from the Washington DC area, New Zealand, Mississipi, Toronto, Orlando, UK, SF, Boston...you get it right?
I also met new people, two of those were Russ and Simon, respectively co-founder and first employe at Rainforest QA (continuous QA as a service from the YC S12 batch). I had a ton of fun with them! I also thought their product was awesome, I loved it. I was not looking for a job, they were looking for people, but in SF. I didn't care, we got along really well and had quite a few beers (English guy + 2 Canadians = lot of beers as you can imagine). Fast forward a month or two later. They made TechCrunch, and I reached out to Russ...something like "Hey, congrats on making TC and launching!". Then we exchanged a few more Twitter DMs. I ended up telling him something like "if you're ever looking for remote people, think about me! :)". I guess that worked out well as I ended up being employee #2, first remote employee of a now successful team distributed on 4 continents. Best job ever. The team was awesome from the start, the product was awesome, the guys were flexible. Remember my wife was pregnant? Well, they were ok with my paternity leave only a few weeks after I joined (they knew before hiring me) and my first week was going to be mostly spent at a conference I was talking to.
I learned a lot while working at Rainforest. I joined early enough that we didn't know what we were doing in so many ways. I did code, hiring, support, I was involved in positioning and marketing sometimes, I blogged about different things bringing a ton of traffic and so much more. We made some mistakes, but I guess we still did not do too bad as they are growing like crazy now (a pre-nicorn, like Jason Lemkin, one of the main investors, would say. You know, the SaaStr guy?).
I've learned so much...it helps me with my clients as a SaaS consultant (you can hire me) and it helps me a lot to build my own bootstrapped startup, Metrics Watch (we do alerts for Google Analytics, to save you time so you can do other stuff than looking at metrics for unusual things). I also gave a talk last year called "Startups: errors and hints we rarely talk about" which was mostly learnings from mistakes we did at Rainforest QA and how to (hopefully) avoid them. (I would love to give this talk again, please get in touch if you have suggestions of conferences where I could give that talk).
I have more friends all around the globe now, it's up to me to visit them in their respective countries.
Meeting a friend and client through THEIR support
That one is pretty cool! More than a year ago, I had an issue while using Gemnasium. I reached out to their support. They not only fixed my issue, but the founder jumped on the email thread and was like "hey, I see you're in Quebec, I just moved in Quebec City from France..." and I don't remember the specifics, but I suggested a call on Google Hangout where I could tell him more about the community in Quebec City, the events, the people, etc. We've met a few times since and became friends. Well, it turns out that when I announced I was leaving Rainforest to focus on Metrics Watch and do some freelancing for a while, he had a need for someone like me. So, in less than 24 hours, I've landed a really fun contract! We are working on an enterprise version of Gemnasium. Pretty cool right? Always be ready to make friends and contacts, always!
How the passion of some people can change you radically?
I could tell you about how a consultant (and now friend, Marc Pearson) motivated me to surpass myself in 2008. He motivated me so much, he had no idea. His passion, his knowledge and his happiness were super motivating! Which reminds me I should thank him again... I also did an interview at Mirego around 2010. I screwed it up badly, but you know what? The interviewer, which was a co-founder, had an intense passion for what they were doing, which gave me another solid kick to get better, spend more time investing on me, building more things for fun. I started to learn Ruby on Rails on my own and Titanium Mobile not too long after that. I was more motivated than ever before to kick ass.
Those are just two examples...there's more, but let's keep going.
Last summer, a bunch of entrepreneurs from Montreal came in my area as part of "La tournée des entrepreneurs" (Entrepreneurs tour)...we were maybe 50% local, 50% from Montreal or elsewhere. That was not only informative and very useful to talk with other entrepreneurs with different businesses and backgrounds, but guess what? I made friends! Some of them actually had me in Montreal a few weeks ago either in their house or in events or for drinks. I was there to meet people but turns out that it might turn into business in some cases. I've referred potential clients to some people and got referred by others. I made connections.
So many more...and more to come!
There's so many more...like PJ Hagerty whom I didn't met at the RubyConf where we were both but he was traveling to meetups to give talks, and I got in touch on Twitter while on the plane...well, it turns out he came where I live, in the middle of nowhere, during the freezing cold month of January...to give a 15-20 minutes talk at one of the meetups I'm running. We're now friends, we had so many beers in DC last summer...which brings me, I met again with a bunch of people from Ruby Hangout and Rubyconf that are from the DC area, UK and other places while I was in DC.
I think I'll stop here...there are so many more stories, but you get it, right? And there's more to come, because you know what? I enjoy meeting people now more than ever, it's enriching and always surprising!
Go out and talk to people.
Just meet people, it will change your life. Not everyone you meet will do, but as you meet more and more people, the likelihood that someone will drastically change your life increases. It might take hours or years before they do.
I am preparing a follow up post about my top tips to meet people and expand your network. Subscribe to my newsletter to know when it happens. Also remember my free email course...sign up, and I'll give you my tricks about hiring, managing remote teams and working remotely as only the first remote employee of a YC-backed 'pre-nicorn' can tell it.