How to network during summer social situations
Long summer days inspire relaxation; there’s less pressure to attend professional conferences and local chapter events in the spirit of networking. Just because more formal opportunities to make new contacts are pretty limited during the hotter months doesn’t mean you can’t get your networking game on in other ways. Sure, the game has changed somewhat, but the rules haven’t. Here are some tips:
Whether you’re in an intramural softball league or waiting for court time at the Central Park Tennis Center, there are endless opportunities to strike up a conversation. Simply be yourself! Focus on why you’re there and talk about the game or venue as an icebreaker. Normally you would probably approach someone at a mixer asking how they know the host or what they do for a living, so in this case you can keep things lax and start by asking about their game and their team, and then as an afterthought toss in, “Oh, by the way, what do you do for a living?” Get to know people as people first and their occupation second and introduce yourself in this spirit, too. It’s more fun that way.
Have your elevator pitch at the ready
You never want to sound canned, but you should always be ready to succinctly pitch yourself. It’s not so much the words but how you say them. What’s your energy level like? What’s the other person’s body language like in reaction to your summary? Are they bored or intrigued?
Look put together
Even when you’re at the beach, you can still pull it off. Keep it simple and consistent: Avoid dressing sloppily, keep the torn clothing or wrinkled outfits where they belong— on the ironing board. You may be sporting flip-flops instead of heels, but your overall presentation should still be a positive one. Remember, your new contacts are in the same situation and in casual gear too, so it’s completely normal to have a conversation that heats up into specific industry lingo. Give yourself a break if it is scorching out, though.
Bring your business cards
Yes, even if you simply go outside to walk your dog at 6 a.m., you never know who you may meet. The summer brings a carefree energy to it, but that doesn’t mean to ditch the notion of exchanging valuable contact information to follow up.
Enjoy the energy
Revel in the splendor of the season, enjoy not being in a stodgy conference room wearing a conservative suit. Even if you’re not pounding the pavement for a new job, you never know where a new conversation may lead. So, the next time you’re on the Hampton Jitney, take a break from that smartphone and meet some new people.