Networking events and conferences are the typical ways to meet industry contacts, but there are many more places you can meet new business connections. You just have to think outside the box.
“Business and networking are not about what you do, but why you do it. If you are able to get people behind your vision for a purpose, you are thinking outside of the box. If that purpose is greater than just money, you are giving your new connections a chance to be a part of something more than themselves, yourself and money,” explains Maxim Shomov, marketing lead at Fair Point GmbH, a B2B accommodation agency in Europe, who himself likes to network in various situations.
And almost anyplace is prime for networking. “You could meet your next business contact pretty much anywhere. Business contacts can be found at your local grocery store, church, sporting event, and many more places. As a rule of thumb, you should always carry your business cards wherever you go. I tell my clients that they should keep a minimum of seven business cards on them at all times. When you’re talking to friends, family, and new acquaintances, somewhere in the conversation talk about what you do for a living,” says Ron Mason, founder/CEO, CM&A Consulting, LLC., an IT products and services firm.
Even working out could lead to new connects. “My two absolute favorite unexpected places to make new connections are the gym and being out for a run. Thankfully, nowadays professionals from all businesses enjoy physical activity. Although it’s a big question of luck (and also some research to find the right gym with the right people in it), a session at the gym or an early morning Saturday park run are the right and modern ways to boost your business connections,” Shomov points out.
Hitting the running circuit worked for Networking Motivator Beth Bridges, author of “Networking on Purpose.” “At about mile 8 I was taking a walking break and I heard a runner talking to his friend as they came up behind me. I recognized the voice, so I reached out to him as they started to go past. He said ‘hi’ and introduced his friend. Later, after the event, I looked his friend up on LinkedIn and made the connection there (“Met at Mile 8”). It has developed into an excellent business relationship and we always have something to talk about,” she shares. “Athletic events such as charity runs, walks, and golf tournaments are fantastic venues for making new connections. As long as you keep it professional but not sales-oriented, you’ll find that people are open and friendly. Plus, you’ll have something significant in common.”
There are many other places that can turn into networking opportunities. Donna Lubrano, adjunct faculty at the Northeastern University, College of Professional Studies, suggests:
–Starbucks coffee line: Say hello or make a comment; start a conversation.
–Dog park: Everyone loves dogs; you would be surprised who walks their dog in the A.M. A quick hello and chat might garner you an intro or a job lead.
–Nail salon (women and men): You’re sitting in the chair getting a mani/pedi. You never know who is sitting next to you. Comment on the color, how important and relaxing the experience is.
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