People get lucky – it’s just a fact of life. However, putting yourself in certain situations can drastically increase your chances of good things happening – if you know where these situations are and what to look for. Would you like to grow your network by meeting the smartest, most influential people you can possibly meet? How can you increase the odds of this happening to you? Simple – understand the places with the highest odds of this happening, and stay aware. Here are some examples of these places:
Airports are very interesting places. Majority of the people traveling through airports fall into two main categories – vacationers and business-people. Regardless of which category an individual falls into, chances are they are well-connected and somewhat successful if they are traveling for business or have enough money to vacation. Airports put people in very social situations – long lines, lounges, bars, airplane cabins with seats very close together – so take advantage and be friendly! Worse case scenario? You have a great conversation!
Entrepreneur clubs can be found everywhere, from your local Chamber of Commerce to local universities. These clubs are meant for networking purposes, and better yet, they are full of people similar to yourself – bright, motivated and entrepreneurial. From personal experience, these clubs are very social, very fun and always welcome new members.
Colleges and Universities are incubators for innovation, entrepreneurial thinking, social gatherings and successful people. Best case scenario is to attend for undergrad and then again for graduate education if you are ambitious enough, but even if you cannot or do not want to attend college, you can still take advantage of what local public universities have to offer, such as public networking events, public speakers and some clubs.
LinkedIn – the “professional’s” Facebook seems to be its unofficial tagline, yet it fits the description perfectly. LinkedIn is very useful for searching for jobs or to hire employees, stay connected with others and to see who knows who. For instance, if you are interested in working with a specific company, you can see if any of your friends’ friends know or work at that specific firm. If you need an “in” somewhere, LinkedIn is where you should begin your search. Just remember to keep your profile up to date and professional, and connect with everyone you know.
Seminars and presentations
Not only is listening to influential and successful people very interesting and useful, but these types of events attract bright and well-connected people, so these events naturally tend to be great networking events as well. If you are going strictly for networking, you should be aware of what type of crowd a particular speaker will bring.
Vacations are always an interested and controversial way to network. On one hand, people go on vacation to get away from work. On the other hand, great vacation spots tend to attract fairly wealthy individuals. If you go on vacation, I urge you to forget about work for the duration of your trip. However, if you happen to meet the right people, try to at least exchange business information. The general rule of thumb in this situation is to refrain from exchanging business information or talking specifically about work until the second or third get-together.
Chamber of Commerce events
Your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to learn and network. They host many events and are a valuable resource for all entrepreneurs. Google your local Chamber of Commerce to get some more information.
Golf courses and country club
Golf courses and country clubs are very similar to vacations in the crowds they attract, yet people at country clubs and golf courses are much more willing, even eager to talk business. Go play 18 with one friend and hope you two get paired up with great people.
There are about three trade shows for every industry imaginable each year. Find relevant trade shows and attend them regularly. You will eventually get to know some great people. Remember to dress-to-impress, bring business cards and samples if necessary, and be ready to talk! Even if you cannot attend as an exhibitor, attend as a guest and just browse – trust me it will be well worth it!
Did you attend college? If so, make sure your alumni association or alumni relations department have your contact information and keep you up-to-date with all events happening. It’s always great to see old friend, and people are usually much more willing to help out fellow alumni.
So those are ten great places to network, but if you remember to stay social at all time, everywhere you go can be a potential networking event. As long as you know how to build your network effectively, you will do fine!