Networking doesn’t have to happen at a planned networking function. Don’t get me wrong; networking meetings are highly effective and certainly have an important place in job search. The same is true for peer groups who get together regularly to support and help each other with career and business goals. But there is also a place for a more organic sort of networking, networking that just happens in the course of day-to-day life.
Executive career coach Judy Rosemarin shared with ExecuNet members that she once had a client who met his current business partner through sheer chance at a Jets/Dolphins game. Imagine that. Your hat gets knocked off your head and the fellow who picks it up and hands it back to you is the one you start a business with a year later. Talk about a touchdown!
Other members shared their networking experiences as they occurred in the course of everyday life. Mark J. suggested activities such as playing golf, and Maria B. recommended volunteering at church and town events, but the overall message was one of having a general openness to meeting new people; being there is not enough.
Too often we get locked into our routines and schedules and don’t take the time to project a willingness to make new contacts. There is an aura about a person who is receptive to making new contacts. For those for whom this isn’t a natural state, you must consciously “turn on” your networking switch even when you’re just going about your everyday life.
Running errands can be a networking event… if you allow it to be one. Jim M. said, “Networking is going on almost constantly. You have to give to get.”
“To me, non-traditional really amounts to finding more opportunities where you are already active and find new environments where you can meet people outside your current circle,” said Mark C. People go to the gym to get a workout, not to meet people, but there’s no reason you can’t strike up a conversation as you move between machines or jog those five miles on the treadmill.
Next time you’re out picking up your dry cleaning, buying groceries, watching your child’s basketball game, or doing any number of things that you do during a typical week, check your networking meter. Ask yourself, “Am I open to meeting someone new right now?” After all, the guy sitting in front of you at the next Jets game could very well be your future business partner. It’s happened before!
What has been your experience with networking in non-traditional places? Please share what has worked for you. You may have the idea that fellow members are waiting for!
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