Networking can be tough. In most professional positions, even if you are not external customer facing, you are likely interacting with individuals and representing the company, department or division somewhere at sometime. And now that summer season is in full swing, that means there are lots of Crew soccer games to attend, golf outing schmoozing, team building retreats, as well as planned and unplanned After Hours events. What that means is you need to get ready. It’s time to consider how you are Dressing for a Summer of Networking.
Just like you wear more white than black, keep sunglasses not gloves ready, and drink cool drinks over warm — you must be ready for the way networking seems to take off during the summer months. Importantly, you have to be prepared to network when the moment arises, because great contacts start when we are least expecting them. So, what types of “attire” do you need. Here’s a short list to get you started.
- Business Cards: Although I’ve read some online chatter (read Chris Brogan and Nate Riggs here), I’m not convinced that we are beyond business cards because even though so many more relationships are built and maintained virtually. Even if you are on the other side of the fence, keep in mind others may not be as “advanced” as you. So, to be on the safe side: Have business cards handy. In fact, have them everywhere. Your car. Your gym bag, Your wallet/purse, even your infant or toddler’s stroller. Everywhere– that way you never miss an opportunity to leave someone with a way to reach you in the future.
- Attend Diverse Events: Networking is about meeting NEW people. So by attending the same types of events on a regular basis, you are likely running into the same crowd of folks. Consider going to events like the Ohio Growth Summit, an American Marketing Association monthly meeting, at DECinDublin Jelly day and Columbus Young Professionals event during the month rather than the same old meet ups. It’s always nice to know someone there, but limit the list to 1 or 2, otherwise you’re likely to hang out with your friends throughout the event rather than meet NEW people.
- Stay Current: During the summer, I read less. I simply am more consumed with doing other things that are outdoor and frequently leave me without my computer. I actually buy the hard copy news paper more (shocker I know!) because I enjoy being outside and there isn’t free wireless everywhere. Where ever you like to read, just do it. Staying current means knowing about the latest, best practices, experimental industry trials, and economic movement happenings are in your field. Although you can’t know everything, it can be very embrassing to hear about an important industry event or news item while calling yourself an expert or thought leader.
- Follow up: Frequently relationship building opportunities are lost on the follow up. If someone says, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about researching other insurance carriers because I’m not 100% satisfied with the company we’ve got now?” That seems like a really bold invitation to contact them and let me know what you’ve got to offer. Now some may not be that coy, if you are lucky they will just come out and say it. But one never knows, so your powers of interpretation have to be active in these circumstances. Be Tenacious!
- Volunteer: In parts of the country where there are temperature variations throughout the year, the summer is a great time to volunteer as an organization, family, or both. There are lots of one-time engagements like runs, golf outings, as well as park and riverside cleanups. These are great opportunities to do some social good and network — all at once.
Dressing for a Summer of Networking,” takes a little planning, a little reading, and guest appearances in new venues. What have you been doing during your summer of networking? I’d love to read your comments, so please leave them below.