What do you love most about what you do for a living?  What I love most are the fascinating, fun, brilliant people I have the pleasure of meeting each day.  Intentionally, of course.  (And if you don’t know what I mean by that, get yourself a copy of my book The Intentional Networker . This blog will be here waiting for you. It’s not going anywhere. Promise.)

So this week I want to introduce you to one of my newest, coolest friends, Melissa Lombard.

My new friend Melissa Lombard

My new friend Melissa Lombard

She’s relatively new to Austin (where I live) and started a project that’s not only very creative and cool, but also very intentional. Here’s what Melissa does in her “spare time”:  she meets, interviews (over a caffeinated beverage, of course), and blogs about one perfect stranger each week. Probably takes a couple of hours per week out of her busy schedule, but she’s extremely dedicated and consistent.

Here’s her reward:  within five short years Melissa will have met 262 new people.  All it takes is asking a stranger to coffee.

Okay. Okay. I know that sounds absolutely terrifying to many of you. Or it sounds like a trite, wornout networking ploy. But, here’s what I like about how Melissa is doing it. She’s mapped it out and planned it. And best of all and most endearing, it’s not about a sales or marketing pitch whatsoever.  (You know what I’m talking about. The “Heeeeeeyyyyyy, let’s have coffee” pitch you get from so-called networkers who you’re pretty sure are ready to tap into your world and suck the life out of it. That’s not Melissa.)

But talking to strangers?  Isn’t that what Mom told you never, ever to do??? Isn’t it weird and scary?

Yes, Melissa, says. It can feel awkward to approach a stranger and ask them to be a part of her project, but most people agree to it. They are generally intrigued and flattered, as I was.  And of course now that’s she’s penetrated certain circles in this town (you know who you are), she’s hit the CML (Connections Mother Lode) and will have no shortage of candidates to interview.

But, knowing what I now know about Melissa, I bet she’ll still keep it real and approach random strangers at the grocery store, on the walking trail, in the aisles of the book store, or wherever she goes. That’s just how she rolls. And being a gorgeous blonde with a lovely demeanor and friendly smile, who’s going to say no?

That’s the whole idea of getting out there and meeting people.  Being a little daring, a little gutzy.  Going where you love to be. Starting conversations. Asking thoughtful questions. Listening, listening, listening. Expanding your world, reach and influence. One. Person. At a time. Relishing the process. Then enjoying the exponential rewards.

Lucky me. I’m Cup #39 featured today on Melissa’s blog. Take a look. And don’t just read what she says about me. (Yawn.) Peruse her site and check out who Melissa is and who she has met. So funny. I know several of these people and can’t wait to read their profiles so I get to know them better, too.

Thanks, Melissa and congratulations on a wonderful project!