As we enter into summer, the warmer weather often brings vacations, weekend plans and hyperactive social lives. However, it also brings a myriad of networking opportunities for those who choose to take advantage. Although businesses tend to slow down during this time of year, that doesn’t mean your networking has to as well. The seasonal downtime you might have at work combined with your increased social activity outside of the office can pay huge dividends for your professional network.
Whether you’re watching a sports game, going to the beach or dining on a restaurant patio, you never know who you might meet or run into. What’s the best thing about summer networking? Talking about work isn’t a requirement!
People don’t want to be talking about work when they’re out trying to have fun, and you don’t want to be the person weighing down the moment by talking about the office. Casual opportunities like a happy hour or a barbecue give you the chance to form a relationship with a new connection, or build upon an existing relationship in a more relaxed setting. Taking the time to form a genuine and personal relationship with someone will also strengthen your professional relationship as well. The stronger your personal relationship is with someone, the more comfortable you’ll feel utilizing their connection and the more beneficial they can be for your professional network.
That being said, if you are in a social environment and the opportunity to “talk business” does come up, you’ll want to be prepared. Always make sure to have business cards with you and an elevator pitch ready (for more information on elevator pitches, click here) so you don’t miss capitalizing on this fortunate opportunity for your career.
Even if professional networking isn’t your main goal while you’re out to dinner or at a BBQ with friends, personal relationships do facilitate professional ones and you always want to be cognizant of the opportunities around you.