When Strangers Become Friends

Have you ever gotten a call or email from a friend offering to introduce you to one of THEIR friends who is coming to your city? Or how about when you are traveling to another city on vacation and a friend says their relative lives there … hinting that you should meet up with them?

As I look back over the last year, I realize this has happened to me multiple times. Initially I was a bit put off with the offers. I mean, would it be fun for me to meet someone’s sister while I am on vacation?

But, I’d like to share what happened to me on some recent trips:

  1. Last October I was heading to Florence, Italy, for a 2-week culinary vacation through Tuscany. As usual, as I was departing Los Angeles International Airport I posted on Facebook that I was headed to Florence, Italy. One of my dear produce industry friends sent me a message that her younger sister lived in Florence. At first I had no interest, but then thought, “What the heck?  Kathryn is super fun, so her sister Sarah would probably be a great person to meet up with!” Sara and I ended up meeting for dinner my last night there, and we had a fabulous conversation. I learned what it was like being an American living and working in Italy with an Italian husband and son. New friend made = check!

    Me and Sara.
  2. In March, I was attending the UC Davis Agribusiness Executive Seminar in Newport Beach, Calif., and as I was reviewing the registration list, I noticed there was someone attending from Spain. Spain? That seemed odd to me since we were in California, so when I ran into him at a reception, I struck up a conversation. It turns out he lives in Barcelona! Coincidentally, I was headed to Barcelona on vacation the next month! So, just before I left on my trip, I emailed Pablo and he offered to pick me up on Sunday for lunch. As it turns out, he and his wife Sonia took me to the most amazing museum I have ever been to: La Pedrera (also known as Casa Milá), featuring the amazing work of Catalan artist Antoni Gaudi. We then went to the seaside town of Sitges, where we had a relaxing, beautiful lunch. Two new friends made = check!

    Pablo, me and Sonia.
  3. And just last week I received an unsolicited email from two women from Miami, Fla., who were vacationing in Newport Beach. They happen to belong to the same international professional women’s group that I do, and they were interested in meeting some Southern California members while they were in town. None of our other members was available, so I offered to meet them for lunch. After all, I knew from personal experience how nice it was to have a “local” show you around while in an unfamiliar city! We discovered that we know several of the same people, and one of the women is on the board of a public supermarket chain in Canada … so we actually had a business connection! We had a completely delightful conversation and meal, and we’re planning to meet up again in November. Two more new friends made = check!

    Claudia, me and Julie.

So, the next time you receive an offer or suggestion to meet up with a stranger, I encourage you to consider taking the chance. Who knows, you might make a new friend!

Karen