Meeting new people is often something we think about as being an afterthought, or something to get to IF your schedule allows between work, family life, and personal hobbies. Most people think their networks could be improved but are find with their immediate circle, or bubble, of connections. Personal bubbles are your connections through people you immediately work with, conduct work with on a daily basis (selected vendors), and those you interact with on a regular basis. This bubble is good enough right? There are enough people to support you in your daily tasks, enough to engage with you with trends or industry news, can take a lunch or coffee with once a month where you don't need to extend your network. Worse comes to worse you can always lean on them if you are in a bind, right?
People's personal bubbles is what they are comfortable with, who they are comfortable with, and only extend one or two degrees out. This is not nearly enough to help you add value to you personal and professional life. Our industry has always spoken of it being an industry of relationships, however people's personal comfort zone has hindered the want/need to expand on your current networks. Relationship development has taken a backseat in many professionals in our industry, either through customers not wanting to attend industry events due to the constant sales pitches, people thinking their networks are "good enough", lack of networking events customers want to attend to, or whatever. But one thing that has been made clear since the pandemic: it's not what you know, it's who you know.
I remember speaking with an Engineer who moved to a new city, but unfortunately lost his job so he was trying to network to land his next position. After chatting with him about how he's been networking, or who he's meeting, I noticed he was bringing up all operators he was meeting with. I asked him what OFS people he's met recently, he slightly dismissed that saying he didn't want to get on the service side. I listened for a bit, then asked him "who do you think knows more about what's moving and shaking in our industry, of who knows who's about to pick up a rig, or looking to hire a Drilling Engineer?" After a little bit of silence, it dawned on him: you need to be expanding your bubble (even targeted bubble) and meet people throughout our industry. It would probably make just as much sense (if not more) if he were to befriend OFS people, as they know what's going on throughout many companies, as well as can recommend people if they were to be looking.
I can recall multiple times, frustomers reaching out to me asking if I knew anyone at company xyz, I did, but I was amazed the lack of bridges in our industry between operators and operators as well! Our industry is a rollercoaster to say the least, so that means there are always booms and busts, acquisitions and mergers, layoffs and staffing up. Which means, that should you find yourself on the positive (or negative) side of the natural changes in our industry, the one thing that can help you stand out, land that next role, help someone else would be to expand your network with fellow operators. Historically there might have been a stigma in meeting other operators as they were the "competition", but in a world where there are a lot of talented and great people out there, I think having those networks and connections is more beneficial than historical stigmas.
So I challenge operators and OFS both to not stay comfortable in your bubble. Bubble's by definition burst, so it takes an active, conscious, and focused effort by you to grow, expand, and create new bubbles. Put yourself in a situation where you can meet new people, go to lunch or grab coffee with someone new, attend an event you're not sure if you'll "get anything from".
Your bubble will burst, and either it can be a very good thing by you actively trying to form additional bubbles, or could leave your career path more rocky.