For school-aged children, summer is the start of relaxation and carefree living. For working professionals, however, it’s a season for continued focus and implementing new strategies to reach potential clients and customers where they’re at – namely, backyard barbecues, pool parties and other summer activities.
“Summer events give you the perfect opportunity to make new connections, rekindle established relationships, and share what you’ve been working on,” Alaina G. Levine, author of “Networking for Nerds: Find, Access and Land Hidden Game-Changing Career Opportunities Everywhere,” told HRVoice.org.
To heat up your networking game just in time for summer, here are a few tips.
1.Prioritize positive partnerships
According to Levine, networking is about building positive partnerships, not trying to manipulate or take advantage of others. Discussing people's visions, needs or challenges should give you the confidence to approach them with the ideas or skills you offer that could help them. During the summertime, people often are “thinking of what they’ve accomplished so far in the year and making plans to hit the ground running when the pace picks up in the fall,” Levine states.
“They’re primed to respond positively if you ask to have a casual conversation about exploring the potential to collaborate,” she adds.
2. Enjoy the process
Networking, especially done poolside, at a cookout or during a game of golf, doesn't need to be a painful experience. If you put it in the right perspective – appreciating the opportunity to discuss shared interests with industry professionals who are mutually passionate – then you can relax and enjoy the experience, even if you don’t generate new leads. That being said, keep conversations you share at summertime social activities light and focused on non-controversial topics. Also, don’t dominate the entire event with work talk. Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University, suggests asking people if it is OK to follow up and schedule an informational interview for more in-depth discussion.
3. Take initiative
Don’t wait for others to plan events to get your summer networking underway. Do it yourself, by scheduling and promoting your own activity for people in your industry. As the organizer, you can control the atmosphere. According to marketing and networking expert Anna-Vija McClain, you should “set a casual dress code, put some music on, and take all of the pressure out of networking,” letting it happen naturally.
“Getting outside in more hands-on activities brings people together, brings down the stress, and takes the pressure off,” McClain says.
Playing host is a good way to set yourself apart in the eyes of potential colleagues or employers, and others will appreciate your initiative. If your industry has slowed for the summer, then get involved in your community by volunteering at a nonprofit or charity. Not only is that a positive way to invest in your local area, but it also helps you hone your skills, make new contacts, learn about various industries and showcase your talent in a way that could potentially lead to new career opportunities, Levine says. Also use the time to join new clubs or take classes to learn extra skills that will broaden your horizons.
Don’t let the summer heat slow you down. Use it to fire up your passion and drive. Social activities during the summer – when people generally are feeling accomplished, relaxed and happy – are good times to mingle and seek out potential opportunities for professional collaboration that could be mutually beneficial.
Looking for great networking events or conferences to attend for 2017? Find exactly what you are looking for here.