There once was a magnificent city named Bubble City.
It was a wonderful place. Everybody knew everyone else. And all its inhabitants felt familiar and safe. It was a bustling city full of life, energy, and businesses that met their every need.
And was called Bubble City because there was a big glass bubble covering it, protecting it from the outside world. Everything that was needed for the inhabitants of Bubble City could be found within the bubble.
But after some years, a time came where things were no longer well in Bubble City. The city was in decline. Business was lagging. Spirits were dimming.
Is this just a silly story? Well, not exactly.
The truth is, we all live inside a bubble created by our thinking. It’s invisible, but very real.
Inside the bubble are the things that we know, the people who we interact with, and the experiences we are familiar with.
Anything outside of the bubble is somewhat threatening to us. It’s the unknown. Anything we’re not familiar or comfortable with is outside of our day-to-day bubbles. And we mostly avoid venturing beyond our bubbles.
But what if success, happiness, even life itself depended upon exploring worlds beyond our bubbles? And what if, by staying isolated inside our bubbles, we would ultimately suffocate and perish? Well, it’s true.
This metaphor could be applied to many situations in life, but for now, let’s just talk about the bubble of your business network and connections.
We all know a finite number of people. Some know relatively few people. Some know a large number.
But most of us are limited by interactions and exchanges with those inside our bubble. Yet if we don’t venture outside our bubbles we severely limit our possibilities.
Let me continue with the story of Bubble City.
One day, the mayor of Bubble City gathered all the inhabitants of the city together and made a ground-breaking speech.
“As the residents of Bubble City, we are facing perilous times. Businesses are failing and the vitality of the city is at stake. if we are to survive, we must reach out and connect with people outside of our own, insular bubble.
“Now, I have spoken to many of you about this and have met with some resistance. There is a lot of fear when it comes to extra-bubble communication and commerce. We tend not to trust or like those outside of our own bubble.
“However, I have just recently received some startling news that changes everything.
“We all believe we live inside this one bubble, Bubble City, but this is not true. I have learned from a reliable source, and confirmed it for myself, that everyone lives inside their own bubble, unique to them. Every bubble is different, yet our bubbles also overlap. And these overlapping bubbles ultimately connect us with an infinite number of people who are not so different from us after all.
“We all think we live in one Bubble City, but we actually live in thousands of Bubble Cities. And because of this truth, it will make it much easier to connect with and do business with people who live in other bubbles.”
And then the Mayor of Bubble City outlined an ingenious plan to reach out and connect with other people in other bubbles, a plan in the form of a game.
“The plan is simple,” said the mayor. “I have devised a game called “Fifty 20-Minute Meetings.” Your goal is to meet with 50 people over the next few months for 20-minute meetings. The purpose of these meetings is to exchange ideas, insights, resources and connections.
“The meetings are only 20-minutes long as to make it easy to fit them into your schedules.
“Your first meetings will be with people in your immediate bubble – those you know well – past clients, business associates, friends, etc.
“What you’ll do in these meetings is simple but powerful: You’ll talk about how you can help each other. And this will ultimately lead to ways you can do business with each other.
“You’ll talk about how you can provide ideas, insights, resources, and connections that could help each other. Any meeting will be considered successful if you can help each other in some way, however small.
“And when it comes to connections, you’ll do your best to offer introductions to people who are outside of the other’s bubble. Remember, we all live in different bubbles, but our bubbles overlap, making it easier to connect than we think.
“Your welcome message to those outside your bubble will be simple and straightforward:
Our mutual friend suggested we connect. They thought we might be able to help each other in some way by sharing ideas, insights, resources, and connections. Can we find a time to talk for 20 minutes or so? I look forward to meeting you.
“What will happen as a result of these meetings is that you’ll end up connecting with many, many more people outside of your own bubble. The walls of isolation will drop, and when you meet new people, new opportunities will start to bloom.”
This announcement by the mayor caused quite a commotion and everyone started talking all at once to each other about this new “bubble truth” that had been revealed to them and the new meeting game that would open up exciting ways of connecting and exchanging with those outside of their, up to now, isolated bubbles.
And then most of them decided, on the spot, to take up the “Fifty 20-Minute Meetings Game” and made a commitment to give it their best shot and see what they could make out of it.
Well, this exciting new enterprise of the Bubble City residents took off like a house on fire. Everyone was vying to meet with as many people, both old and new, as they could and do their best to help each other with ideas, insights, resources, and connections.
In these 20-minute meetings, they shared ideas about how to grow their businesses, insights about how to be more productive, resources that could make them more profitable, and especially connections that led to new markets, clients and collaborations. Sometimes the meetings were so productive that they went a little longer than 20 minutes.
When the residents of Bubble City look back on this monumental occasion, they see it as a turning point in their city’s history and ensuing age of prosperity. One unexpected outcome was that slowly, but surely, the bubble itself dissolved and they realized it previously only existed in their imaginations. The had unwittingly created their own bubbles and then had burst them by connecting with others.
Abundance and happiness reigned. And all because people started speaking to other people outside of their bubbles.
Cheers, Robert (aka, the Mayor of Bubble City)
To see the articles and book that inspired this article go here:
How to meet a whole lot more people for ideas, insights, resources, and connections.
Article #1 by Peter Thompson
This article and the next one is about reaching out to your network and asking for help. And sometimes that help can be connections to prospective clients.
Article #2 by Michael Ehling
Book by Jenny Moates
This book has more of a focus on meeting new business connections. It’s short, easy to read and very heartfelt.