Gretchen Rubin

Trying out the networking concept of the “phone date.”

My friend Marci is a brilliant networker. She’s constantly meeting people and, what’s more, taking the time to make useful introductions for other people. Her new book One Person/Multiple Careers just came out, so she’s been working especially hard lately.

I’m not a natural networker, just the opposite, so I study Marci to see if I can figure out how she does it – and seemingly, so effortlessly.

The other day, she mentioned, “I set a phone date to talk to that guy.”

“Phone date?” I asked. “What’s a phone date?”

Marci explained that a phone date is a date to talk to someone on the phone – not necessarily right away, just sometime in the near future – someone you want to connect with, but who lives out of town or with whom it isn’t necessary to organize an actual meeting. (“Date” as in calendar appointment, not as in romantic date.) You contact the person through email, and make an appointment to speak.

I shudder at the thought of cold-calling strangers, but I vowed that I’d give it a try.

Well, I just had my first “phone date.”

I have to say, it was a bit awkward.

The problem was that I didn’t have an agenda. I just wanted to talk happiness shoptalk with another happiness person. But I think that the conversation seemed a little aimless (or maybe even pointless) to my interlocutor.

A phone date needs a clear agenda.

Also, because I asked for the phone date, I knew all about the guy to whom I was talking, but he didn’t know anything about me. That made it harder to have a good conversation.

But a “phone date” is a useful idea. It’s convenient, efficient, and done right, could be very helpful.

Because of the nature of my work, it’s very hard for me to meet new people. I spent most of my time sitting in front of my laptop, not saying a word except to mutter to myself.

I’ve been trying to work to push outside my usual circle, and especially to meet people engaged in the fields of happiness, writing, blogging, or publishing. Even though my first attempt was awkward, I’m pleased that I connected with another person in the happiness field.

I vow to give it another shot. Next week. Or maybe the week after.

If you're looking for a very quick overview on the subject of happiness, you might start with this post on Life Two.

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