“Don’t you think you’re taking on way too much?” It’s a question that I’ve heard often over the last few years—and it only gets increasingly aggravating each time it’s asked. What’s wrong with being ambitious and wanting more? Doesn’t anyone else feel the way I do?
Luckily, yes. Marie Forleo, a life coach and generally awesome person, recently published a great article (and subsequent video) about why people say that you’re taking on too much. Her reasons were straightforward: They’re either not as motivated as you are, or they’re trying to show concern for your well-being.
If the problem isn’t the latter, what’s an ambitious professional to do? Unfortunately, the answer is not to magically transform the people around you and turn them all into go-getters. Instead, it’s to find a new tribe of people who are just like you.
1. Find a (Small) Networking Group
There’s a trick to finding a useful networking group that many people don’t know—the more specific it is, the better. For example, when I first started looking into networking groups geared toward entrepreneurship, it was really intimidating—the sheer number of people at these shindigs overwhelmed me. I went to one event with well over 100 people, and I walked away with a stack of business cards, but approximately zero promising connections.
Once I gave more thought to what I was really looking for, I hit two jackpots: The Lady Project and bSmart Guide. Both connected me to (a much smaller group of) smart, driven, and successful women who are just as motivated as I am. They’ve given me a lot: enthusiastic peers, amazing mentors, and a number of awesome experiences—like getting to speak at The Lady Project’s summit last year! It’s an ambitious professional’s dream.
2. Get Active on Social Media
Intimidated by in-person networking? That’s OK. Social media is a great go-to if you’re looking for people who share your passion and excitement. Like finding a networking group, the trick is to get specific. After all, there are over 360 million users on LinkedIn and over 230 million people on Twitter, so the more you’re able to whittle those numbers down, the easier it gets.
Need a little help finding your perfect online networking spot? There are plenty of places to get started. On Twitter, this detailed chat list is your best friend. Oh, and this post from Sprout Social can help you narrow down your hashtag choices. For LinkedIn, two great places to begin are industry and alumni groups (Lily Zhang has a helpful post about finding LinkedIn communities worth your time here).
A note to keep in mind: Some of the best social media networking opportunities are those that are a little exclusive (i.e., not letting in every single person who requests to join). So, don’t be discouraged if you’re not invited in—instead, take it as a sign that you need to get more niche.
3. Be Open to Helping Others
Ambitious people often get so wrapped up in their own goals that they forget that others are also trying to accomplish big things. In doing so, they miss important opportunities to connect with like-minded people. Which is a shame, because people will always want to help people who helped them. It’s a cliché, but it’s also true.
Regardless of the industry someone is working in, if you find a fellow ambitious professional who wants to do things, offer to help that person. Never underestimate the power of small favors when building relationships, especially with motivated and enthusiastic people. For example, I once helped a PR contact get in touch with a magazine editor for her client, and several days later, she offered to help with my website’s PR for free. Pretty sweet deal, right?
Being ambitious and motivated is an awesome thing, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Instead, find the people who are going to inspire you to do even more.