Summer may seem like the time to take a break from networking and job searching. Yes, it’s a slower-pace time, lots of people are on vacation, there are fewer professional networking events… but effective networking evolves to changing situations. The free-flowing, casual environment of summer’s social gatherings and activities are perfect for reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, AND for making connections with new people. These connections could add important people to your network, provide you with valuable information relevant to your career, or even lead to unexpected opportunities.
Make the most of summer leisure time and more casual social events with these “off-season” networking suggestions.
Accept social invitations. Graduation parties, weddings, class reunions, neighborhood barbecues, and your own company’s picnic are all great places to make new connections (and strengthen existing ones). You never know who you might meet over a chat at the bar or the connections your table mate might suggest.
Attend local events, especially if they are likely to attract people in your professional field. Sporting events, museum or gallery opening nights, outdoor music events, wine tastings, and cultural or food festivals are all conducive to mingling, meeting new people, and running into people you already know.
Pursue social hobbies or outdoor activities. Golf is the classic “networking sport”, but tennis, hiking, cycling, and running groups or clubs all incorporate plenty of time for getting to know other people. And anyone with children knows that kids’ summer sports like baseball games or swim team offer copious amounts of time for the parents to chat and get to know each other.
Keep in mind when attending any of these events — or even when you are out running errands, carting kids around, or taking summer trips — that while, of course, summer is casual, a dash of “professional” goes a long way:
- Be aware of first impressions. An overly casual appearance can border on looking sloppy and unkempt. Aim to always look pulled-together and well-groomed.
- Have fun, but behave in a way that would be appropriate for a future boss or colleague to see.
- Circulate at any event you attend, meet new people, and always ask about the other person as much as you talk about yourself.
- Carry your business cards. (If you don’t have one, make up a simple one with your name, contact information, and a few words describing your work, e.g. “marketing professional”, “interior designer”.)
- Follow up with new connections quickly, but in an easy-going way. A quick “I enjoyed our chat” email is sufficient. You can follow-up in a more career-specific manner in the fall.
The slower pace of summer is also a great time to initiate your own networking:
- invite a new connection — or someone you’ve been wanting to get to know — out for coffee, lunch, or a round of golf
- use downtime to reach out to connections on social media, write unsolicited recommendations for colleagues, and make a list of people you want to connect with to grow your network
- organize a get-together and ask your friends to each bring someone new to the group
It’s easy to enjoy the slower pace and fun of summer, while still keeping your professional network active and growing.