In Alex's case, he met Rahul at Meta and now they're cofounders. How can I build up such deep relationships with other people at Google or any future company I work at?
This is going to sound corny, but I 100% believe in this idea: Lead with kindness.
People like it when you help them and add value to their lives. This is the same inside and outside of work. If you want to build deep relationships with people, figure out how to be useful to them with absolutely no expectation of your help being "repaid" in the future.
Of course, sometimes you will get burned: You'll help someone and they never return the favor. But that's better than the alternative where you never help anyone unless they help you first, and you end up having 0 powerful work relationships and social capital.
However, in most cases (assuming you're working on a good team, which a stellar company like Google is chock full of), the person you end up being kind to initially will start immediately thinking how they can do the same for you in the future. When you have this dynamic of each of you going out of your way to help one another, that's when an incredible relationship starts to blossom and you start building a real network, a one that's full of people who will have your back and be honest with you.
I absolutely hate "networking" where there's a clear ulterior motive. The most common example is cold connecting with people and then asking them for a referral into their FAANG company. I'm confident that the majority of people you want to network with (talented, connected, hard-working folks) have the same mentality I do, which is why you want to lead with kindness as I mentioned before - It's the complete opposite of the fake "networking" where you're just in it to get something.
It's cool that you mention Rahul and I as this was literally an example of leading with kindness, haha. The context behind our friendship is that Rahul joined Meta shortly after I did. I had no idea what I was doing when Rahul joined, but what mattered is that I had slightly more of an idea than Rahul as he was literally brand new to the Portal org and company. I spent a lot of time to make sure he onboarded smoothly. I also had a running doc of "tips and tricks" I had acquired during my initial learning on Portal on how to get stuff working and navigate the environment, which I was also happy to share with him. From there, we kept in touch and got to know one another more and more - Now we're building Taro together!
There are professional and interpersonal sides to this. Making adult friends is difficult, and there are sometimes added challenges (I have social stuff stemming from Autism), but making a work friend isn’t that much different than in your personal life. Are you interested in their work? Can you ask intelligent questions about it to show enthusiasm? Can you find some small way to help? Having casual 1:1s to catch up and “have coffee” may feel like a waste of time to some people, so definitely ask before scheduling that, but others find it a relief to take a step away from regular responsibilities.
From there, being visibly effective and caring as a leader is very useful in making allies that can be friends. Are you building bridges instead of walls? Do you take responsibility and provide solutions? If people know that coming to you leads to solutions, they are going to do it. If they are coming to you, it builds trust and respect. From that position it’s a lot easier to build a deeper relationship.