This is a simple concept: it is too easy to get stuck in your own world. You think you struggle with a unique set of problems that only apply to you, while there are millions of people out there working on more or less the same things. Those people can teach you, guide you and help you grow.
There is one thing you need to do: reach out.
When I had my own company, getting new clients required getting out of the office and actually talking to people. I got a little stuck. Somehow, and I cannot remember how the plan came into existence, I decided that I wanted to get to know some of the other companies that were doing more or less the same thing as we were doing.
It was a hit. I made a list of companies and simply sent out an email which said: “hey, you’re doing something similar! I’d like to learn from how you guys are running things. Want to grab coffee?”. Next to new business, I also made new friends and learned a lot of things while talking to all of these people.
When I moved on, I did the same thing with meeting other developers and right now with product managers. The simple question “I’d like to learn from how you work” opens up new conversations. In the past year I’ve learned so much from meeting people with way more experience than myself. It’s fun, you’ll learn and you’ll grow your network.
How to get started?
- Start small. Email a couple of people you know vaguely. Ask someone to make an introduction. Just a cup of coffee. Or use Skype.
- Come prepared: do your research, have questions ready and take notes.
- Listen more than you speak (this could be a completely separate post, such a strong topic). Be genuinely interested in whatever the person you're meeting is talking about.
- Make it easy for them: travel to a convenient location and take whatever timing that works.
Good luck and have fun.