My son's social life is now part of my social life, as it is with most parents, and I recently took him to an extracurricular class. Another parent was talking about how his new schedule limited time with his own son. I asked why.

"I made a career change."

"Wonderful! What are you doing now?"

"Oh. I became a freelance marketing and PR consultant."

"That's great! What do you focus on?"

"Different things... [silence]"

At that point, I stopped asking questions. I wanted to share that I know founders whose companies need representation, journalists that are looking for new goods and services to cover, and fellow PR people who could give him insight on his journey. But he didn't give me permission to do so. So I stopped.

Here's a philosophy that can help your career progress: People want to help you. If I give you advice, I get a boost in my pride. If I give you business, I give you the opportunity to slide some business my way later. If you take my business, I make some money. We gain from even the most selfless acts. Others are motivated to help you succeed.

The irony is that we will go to a conference, a "networking event" or a business get-together and hound down people who we feel like have the power and talk to new people only to push our own agenda.

We have it backwards.

It is in your everyday life - at the gym, at restaurants, at your neighborhood watering hole - where you'll find people outside of your natural network. I love TED, but I'm going to bump into 75 percent of the same attendees - and even if they are new, they will be somehow connected to the TED network and won't really be a stretch outside of my comfort zone. Unfortunately, outside of your comfort zone are the people who can take your business to the next level.

Here's the scoop:

  1. Be ready to talk about your passion on the spot, no matter what the environment
  2. Be open to talking to people outside of your comfort zone
  3. Be clear that you don't know how someone can help you move forward until you actually talk to them

Your next co-founder, investor or mentor may be sitting right next to you. You just need to pay attention.