Labor Day is just around the corner, which means picnics, barbecues, and other social situations celebrating the end of the summer. What a perfect time to hone your networking skills! Career expert Vicki Salemi shows you how...
Barbecues, picnics and ball games, oh my! Sure, as social events take reign on the calendar over structured networking events, you may think it’s time to leave that business card at home and pack up your elevator pitch until the cocktails come out again. Think again.
Networking opportunities via social occasions are abundant! Plus, you’re likely more relaxed and less likely to feel “on” and therefore, more authentic.
Just take it from Diane Lyons, founder of FestiGals, an annual empowering women’s getaway weekend held every June in New Orleans. For instance, Lyons planned a morning outing to Café du Monde for beignets, carriage house tours, and an empowering luncheon featuring keynote speaker Hoda Kotb. All events lent themselves to not only having fun, but networking, as well.
“As women, we need to support each other. All the arrows start to fall in place in the right direction when you make connection after connection that leads you to your goal,” Lyons says. “Talk to each other, talk about business plans and help each other’s business grow by trading ideas.”
For Kimberly Manning, FestiGals attendee and owner of Events Planning Management in Washington, D.C., events in another location lend themselves well to make connections in another city. “It’s as easy as talking to someone about how you can help them and vice versa and seeing if they’re open to grabbing a cup of coffee if you’re ever in their city,” Manning says.
Plus, it could be as simple as striking up a conversation with someone new. For instance, in an antique store, you don’t need to be in full-on business networking mode to succinctly strike up a conversation and remark on a beautiful jewel, Lyons advises. Or bond over links. No, not cuff links but rather, the golf course. Although it’s traditionally been a male sport, by inserting yourself to a made-for-networking situation you could make valuable connections, enjoy a day outdoors, and have fun while you’re at it.
“It’s been an office away from the office for a while and with more women climbing the corporate latter, golfing has become part of that,” says Terry Hamilton, director of golf operations at The Links at Crowbush Cove in Canada.
The Links is part of Golf PEI, a consortium of 32 golf courses in bucolic Prince Edward Island. If you haven’t picked up a club, the various golf courses provide lessons as well as time on the driving range and when all else fails, you can always hang out in the clubhouse and see who you meet in terms of executives and rising stars.
Of course, the key to effective networking is asking questions of the person you’re speaking to such as finding out where they’re from, what they do for a living, and being able to ask for help if you need it. This can happen anywhere – in the golf clubhouse, in an antique store, and even while waiting on a long line at the beach concession stand.
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