3 Conversations With Strangers That Transformed My Career
I hate the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Because that seems outside of my control. If living my dreams comes down to my skill (what I know), then all it takes is hard work. But if it comes down to my community (who I know), then it’s just luck.
Instead of “It’s who you know,” it should be, “It’s who you meet.”
It was just 3 years ago that I had a job that wasn’t going anywhere and paid me almost half what I’m paid today. I was an admin assistant for my church. It really wasn’t a terrible job. In fact, I liked a lot of it. But it was so far from where I thought I would be 10 years ago that it made me feel defeated.
I would lie awake feeling helpless, stuck, and directionless because I had no idea how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.
When I looked at my network and community, making a change seemed pretty hopeless. I didn’t really know anyone doing the kind of things I want to do. I had no idea how to get out of the pit I found myself in.
I changed my career in just 13 months. I’m talking a complete 180 turnaround in barely a year. And just it took 2 things.
First, it took work. The adage above is a bit misleading. It should say, “It’s not only what you know, but who you know.” Because what you know really does matter. If I hadn’t spent that 13 months learning and practicing a new skill, the second thing I did would have been worthless. So putting in the work is crucial. But it’s not enough on its own.
The second thing it took was meeting new people. I guess you could call that networking, but it was way easier than I thought networking should be. I literally had 3 conversations with people who were pretty much total strangers. And I’m not exaggerating when I say those 3 conversations are primarily what launched my career.
So here are the three conversations I had with total strangers that launched my career.
1. David Q. gave me a new idea to pursue with two sentences.
Today, I am an SEO copywriter. Honestly, I don’t think if you had asked me 3 years ago what I would be doing for a living in just 13 months, I would ever imagine that I could say, I’ll be writing full-time. But it happened. And it all started with an email from David.
I’ve technically never met David. David is a blogger. I had started a blog and emailed him to ask for advice about growing my social media.
David’s response was short. But there’s no way he could know how much it would mean for my life.
He said, “Forget about social media, and learn everything you can about SEO. I get way more traffic from SEO than I get from social media.”
I opened a new tab in my browser and asked Google, “What is SEO?” I had never heard of it. Within just a few months, I had struck gold on my blog thanks to David’s advice. I was getting 10,000 website visitors every month from one single blog post because of my very short conversation with him.
2. Alex R. gave me my first opportunity.
I had the idea of doing SEO and copywriting (another new word I only recently discovered) for businesses, not just for my blog. But how in the world would I get customers?
Around that time, a new couple started coming to my church. I met the husband and learned that he was a full-time freelance web designer. That 5 minute conversation at church became a lunch invite.
Over lunch, I told Alex what I was learning and the results I saw on my blog. Then I told him, “I’m thinking about starting to do SEO for business as well.”
Alex seemed thrilled. “Oh! Well, I don’t have time to write content for my clients. I just build their websites. I could use a copywriter. Would you be interested in writing for my clients?”
That was only 4 months after I had heard the word SEO for the first time. And I already met my first opportunity to make money from it.
3. Aaron D. gave me a lasting opprutnity
I worked with Alex for about 8 months. But to be clear, that work was very sporadic. I only did about 3 projects for him during that time (not all of his clients saw the value in paying a copywriter when they could write their own words for their website cheaper). Still, those 3 gigs helped me build a (very) simple but strong resume.
Not long after, I ran into another guy visiting my church who I had seen around town before but never officially met. Aaron worked as a salesman at a local web design company.
I introduced myself, followed him on Instagram, and asked him if he’d like to go to lunch. I had basically the same conversation with Aaron over lunch as I did with Alex. I asked him about what he does and told him about some of the things I’m doing with SEO and copywriting. I didn’t ask for an opportunity or anything. I just shared my limited experience and the results I saw from it. Then lunch was over. I thought I had just made a new acquaintance.
Aaron messaged me on Instagram about a week later, “Hey man, would you like to get more copywriting clients?”
He said his company was looking for a part-time copywriter to work with them. I accepted the position exactly 13 months to the day after hearing the term “SEO” for the first time. A year later, that part-time gig turned into a full-time job and a new career.
Your dream job is not as far off as it seems. Just put in the work and meet a couple of new friends. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities that might come from it.