We’ve all spent some time in coffee shops. Morning coffee is a daily ritual for many Americans. We all love spending time there studying, working, or simply meeting up with a friend to chat. Stop by any Starbucks during the day, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. But who are all the people there? What do they do?…Have you ever asked yourself these questions?
A few weeks ago while having lunch with a friend, we were discussing this “networking paradox” we encounter as we go about our business:
“Omg!” she said, “That is so true. We’re sitting here anonymous to the people around us…yet, of course, I always wonder who they are, and what they do — haha!”
Like fish oblivious to the water they live in, we have become desensitized to this immense body of people that drift by us anonymously. This is the conundrum — the paradox — so many people around, yet who are they? What do they do? And, most importantly, should I get to know them?We ask, but we usually fail to find adequate answers to these questions. We think, ‘maybe I’ll attend a networking event,’ but what happens? We reach for our comfort zone at the bar, grab a drink, and desperately scan the crowd hoping to see a familiar face or at least a smiling one inviting us in. Inevitably, we leave with a business card or two, and if we’re lucky a decent contact we usually end up failing to follow up with.
I’m not certain when I first became aware of this conundrum. I just know that I’ve had a desire to explore these questions and try to solve the riddle for a long time. I do remember asking similar questions in school, maybe as early as elementary school. Certainly in high school and especially in college, as that is typically when the anonymous crowd becomes massive.
I recall meandering through the University campus in San Antonio, and being exposed to hordes of people I had never seen and wondering — who are these people, what are they studying, and where are they from?! It’s a daunting task for anyone. Few students, while in College, will get to know even a quarter of their colleagues.
When we begin our professions, we encounter the same thing all over again. Especially in the big cities, and within big corporations. Who does what? Who should I know?…and it’s even bigger in a high rise with multiple tenants — 'what do they do at the XYZ corp on the 9th floor?'
Our incessant curiosity continues. We ignore it because of (call it what you will) lack of courage or boldness on our part. This leads to the thought — what do we miss because of this? What do we miss out on because we fail to know & interact with the people around us? Marcel Proust, responding to a newspaper on what our time should be spent on before we die wrote:
“Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it — our life — hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly…we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire…love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.”
Be prepared, I say. Prepared to seize the opportunity. When you can know the crowd around you — what will you do? When the coffee shop goers become known, what will that mean? When College mates have a name, and you know what they like to do, how will you interact?
Are we ready to live in a richer network? Are we ready to see what we’ve been missing? Finally, are we ready to connect with something new?
Nawkr, an app we've developed helps us do this. This missing piece in social connectivity is happening. The platform that we choose to use is yet to be decided. The strides we're making in Dallas and across Texas (Austin, College Station) are in our estimation laying the foundation for this technology to become commonplace within our everyday lives.