How many times have you gone to a networking event, nursed your drink and stared at your chicken wing wishing you were at home with your friend Netflix?
How to network effectively can be tough. You may have the perfect questions to ask and you have your 20 second resume pitch memorized. But, knowing where to go to make great connections is important too.
Networking events are not always designed to give you optimal results. This list will grow your view of where to make new connections with people that may last a lifetime. Many of the places on this list may surprise you.
Chamber of Commerce Events – Businesses in your area always have like minded people who may need or know someone who needs your services.
Professional Meetings – Professional associations and societies always have meetings where you can chat about your niche.
Any Business Journal event. Forty under forty, power breakfasts, seminars. Places where movers and shakers go. The Business Journal reader and event attendee demographics are staggering. They are ALL people who make things happen.
Networking club or business Organization – Participate with groups where solid business contacts belong and participate.
The Office – Talk to your co-workers. Get to know them beyond a simple office connection.
Parties – Office parties, holiday parties, and birthday parties are a fantastic opportunity to meet people you might not otherwise interact with.
Happy Hour – Be social at happy hour. Talk to new people and see who you meet.
Job Fairs – This is one of the best places to get some face time with employers and fellow job seekers.
Private club. A golf country club, a food and networking club like Club Corp. with branches all over the US, or a small private club. It may be expensive, but the connections are priceless.
Off The Beaten Path
Grocery Store – Everyone has to eat. You may be able to check out more than groceries while standing in line.
Health Clubs/Yoga/Spa – When you’re taking a break from stretching or working out, chat with your neighbors.
Outdoors – If you’re out for a hike, hitting the ski slopes, or playing some pickup basketball, you’re bound to meet interesting people with similar interests.
Sporting Events – Are you a diehard Packers fan? Did you watch the Blackhawks last night? Sports are a perfect common ground to help break the ice.
Religious Events – If you’re religious, you’ll be amazed at how many people you’ll meet.
Online – While it’s important to log as much face time with people as possible, the online world is a booming place to network. Whether you’re on LinkedIn, run a blog, post on forums, or use event sites like MeetUp.com, the Internet is a networking machine.
Coffee Shops – Grab a cup of joe and enjoy it at the local coffee shop. See who trickles in and chat with them.
Homeowner Meetings – Do you know what your neighbors do? Get to know them on a personal level.
Community Events – Is your community hosting a 5 km run, doing a road cleanup, or hosting a free concert? Go out and participate.
Alumni Events – What does your classmate from high school do now? How about that guy from your soccer team in college? Stay in touch with them and make contact regularly.
Cultural Events – Whether it’s an arts council event, fireworks for the 4th of July, or an annual renaissance fair, cultural events are an ideal place to meet others.
Volunteer Opportunities – Volunteering is a great way to build a resume, but also a fantastic way to meet other folks.
Someplace where like-minded people belong. The Knitters Hangout, your college alumni club, the ACT users club. Having common ground always gets a conversation going.
Play Ground – Of course you should be watching your kids. It is also a great spot to connect with other parents with similar interests.
Dr.’s Office /Beauty/Barbor Shop/Auto Repair – While you are waiting for your service, get to know the other people who are waiting with you.
Any type of class you take to learn more and make yourself better. Toastmaster’s, Success Lab HQ classes, even learning a foreign language. Other people who want to improve will also be there. You will improve and make lifetime friendships.
Elevators – When you ask what floor, it’s the perfect opportunity to chat (quickly).
Interest Groups – Are you a HAM radio operator? A member of a book club? Or a avid painter? Join a club of people who enjoy doing the same things as you.
Dog Park – It’s always nice to let your four legged friend run free at the dog park. While Fido’s playing chase, see what the other dog owners are up to.
Conferences & Retreats – Conferences are easy ways to keep up with your continuing education and learn new things. It’s also a superb way to meet other professionals in your industry.
Family and Friends – Your direct connections almost always have a huge sphere of influence.
Clients – Be personable with the clients you interact with. Chat with them and stay in touch.
School – If you’re in school or even if you’re just picking up your child from school, get to know the other students and parents.
My Secret Tips
Secret 1: Don’t just attend – get involved and lead. Get respected by those who count by being someone they have to see at the event. – If you feel like the odd man out at events, become part of the team throwing the event. Instead of having to stand around, you actually have a job that puts you in position to talk with everyone at the event.
Secret 2: Stay relaxed and help others get relaxed. The key advantage is that networking is business leisure. This is supposed to be having fun. Remember to actualy part and laugh at the party. You’ll get more done and see more people in the leisure zone.
Secret 3: Stay Ready! Antennas up at all times. No matter where you are: bathrooms, lines, lobbies of hotels, car washes, elevators, airports (especially airports)and restaurants are all game if you’re alert. Stay ready and you don’t have to get ready! You’ll get the lead or the deal you were never expecting.
This list isn’t just fluff. Many of these things I do so much that I am not aware and they have gotten me opportunities that I never asked for. People remembered me and called offereing jobs, opportunities and connections that I still reap from today.
Michelle Price- Johnson
Founder, Success Lab HQ
Michelle is a sought after broadcast consultant who made the pivot from helping build companies by buliding people, to helping build better lives by building people. michellepricejohnson.com