Got game? That is, are you on top of your networking game in the summer or a little lax, behind the 8-ball perhaps? Never fear. Even if you're not in job search mode, there's nothing better than summer socializing to keep your skills sharp and intact. And what's even better is for people who loathe to network or "don't know how," you may not even realize you're doing it! The summer provides a plethora of opportunities to simply "get out there" and in turn, by enjoying your summer you may add a few new important contacts along the way.
Here are 4 ways to keep your summer networking skills sharp.
- Pursue activities you enjoy doing! For instance, I recently returned from tennis camp in upstate New York. The purpose was to play a ton of tennis and get world-class instruction while enjoying the camaraderie of my friends. You can imagine what happened next. During one of the meals at communal tables, you start talking to each other. Next thing you know, we're exchanging cards and digits. Networking in full force doesn't have to be at a professional location nor does it have to feel like you're "on." Actually, the best type of networking can occur when you're completely relaxed. People want to work with you and hire you if they think you're qualified and also, enjoy spending time with you. Be yourself and be open to meeting people.
- Barbecues. Whether your neighbor is having an annual summer picnic or your urban dwelling is having a rooftop party, by all means, go! Bring some business cards but keep in mind your first goal is socializing. Secondary is networking but it will automatically wiggle its way into the conversation at some point. Why not be prepared with an authentic, low maintenance elevator speech? The more relaxed you are, the more approachable you become.
- Running teams. What could be better than a summertime workout with a new group, right? Whether you've joined a running group or volleyball team, it's all good. As you begin to learn more about your teammates, which of course includes how they make a living, be prepared to ask them for help. Perhaps they work in an industry you're vying to get into. Ask for an informational interview with them or one of their colleagues.
- Vacation. Ah, the coveted vacay! Sure, you want to unplug, right? Again, sometimes the best times to meet new people (weddings, anyone?) could be when you're at ease and on a plane, train or even a hotel lobby. Keep in mind you never have the second chance to make a first impression. Although the whole point of being on vacation is to not "be on" you never know who you strike up a conversation with on a cruise ship or who may be sitting next to you on that airplane!
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In essence, networking is networking. The tactical strategy doesn't differ based on venue or scope. However, with ample summer opportunities to be social and active, there's a whole new network simply waiting to be tapped into!
About the author: Vicki Salemi is a career expert who taps into her 13+ years of experience as a human resources/recruiting executive at KPMG and Deloitte to enlighten and empower people. She's an author, journalist, public speaker and die-hard Yankees fan! Vicki Salemi's the author of Big Career in the Big City: Land a Job and Get a Life in New York and The ABC's of College Life.
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