Tapping an old network

What are the odds? This summer, I ran into an old girlfriend when my 6 year old daughter and her 7 year old son happened to be placed in the same swimming class put on by the parks and rec department.  When you move back to your home town, weird things happen.

That encounter led to much old yearbook browsing, during which my wife noticed that I had a ton of signatures in mine.  40 or 50, easy.  “How on earth did you know all these people?”, she asked.

It turns out, three sports throughout the year and 6 classes a day make for a lot of interaction with a lot of different groups of people.  If you do the math, there’s roughly 25 people in each class and 15 (basketball) to 40 (track) people on a sports team and over 4 years with all those interactions results in something like 3 degrees of freedom with all 2500 people that went to my high school when I graduated.  I realized that’s a pretty diverse set of folks and decided to see who I could find and what they were up to now.

First off, you should know that I refuse to pay Classmates.com fees.  Had I not been so stubborn it would have been a lot easier to find people, but I’m not (I’ll refrain from the tirade as to why).  Facebook makes the old friend discovery process pretty easy, though, and to a lesser extent so did LinkedIn.  Using both, when you find one person you end up finding several more in the process.

Now, I may never conduct business with any of the discoveries I made, but that’s true of any networking.  While not everybody was interested in reconnecting, the ones who were had lots of enthusiasm and a genuine interest that you just don’t find in new connections with strangers.  It was fun and I was shocked by the diversity of jobs that people had (including several jobs I didn’t realize existed):

  • Inventory coordinator for a major company in the cellular industry
  • Head food services manager for a regional theme park
  • Poet
  • Graphic designer and former rock wall climbing gym owner
  • Vice President of affiliate marketing for a TV show syndication company
  • Software engineer creating magazine publishing applications
  • Sales and marketing professional for a wood floor manufacturer
  • Law school library coordinator
  • Peace Corps volunteer
  • Project manager for the blog of a top 5 TV show
and the list goes on.  Many I introduced to LinkedIn for the first time and helped me create an alumni group for our high school.
You never know who might be that person in your network that can help you with something (or who you can help) and it was a great experience rediscovering old friendships.  I’m not done, this is an ongoing process, so who knows what else I might find?
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