Summer is the time of year to have fun, relax and recharge. There are an overwhelming number of things taking up your time: going to the pool, taking a much-deserved vacation, and spending time outdoors with your friends and family. It is easy to get caught up in all the summer activities and forget to the little things in business that makes a big impact – networking!
Networking can seem daunting, exhausting, and time consuming; however, this is not always the case. By doing one, or all six, of the tips below each day you are well on your way to building your network! Oh, and these tips are so simple and effortless you can enjoy your summer activities without having to break a sweat.
While you are enjoying your summer, here are six (6) easy ways to network without really knowing you are doing it. Believe it or not, networking can be that simple!
1. STRIKE UP A CONVERSATION
Whether you are on vacation, grabbing a cup of coffee, or working, you can strike up a conversation with someone. You never know where the conversation will lead and could potentially land you your next client, customer, or referral. Just be sure not to come off as aggressive or desperate – your conversations should be natural and relate to your surroundings. You should not walk up to the random stranger at your hotel’s continental breakfast buffet and immediately begin your elevator pitch!
2. CARRY AROUND YOUR BUSINESS CARDS
This tip is so simple, and yet can make a huge impact! After you conclude a conversation with someone, give them a business card! This way they can follow up with you on LinkedIn or send you an email. You never know who you will run into while you are out this summer. It is important to always be prepared to promote your business (or your job search efforts); this makes it easy to get in contact with you. If you do not have a business card on you, whip out your cell phone and connect with them on LinkedIn so you can still follow up later!
3. DO SOMEONE A FAVOR
Networking is not about having an agenda or seeing what someone else can do for you. It is more about what you can do for someone else! If you see that someone else in your network needs help with something you know how to do, reach out to them. Better yet, if you do not know how, recommend another person in your network! This helps establish a more personal connection.
4. SEND TWO LINKEDIN MESSAGES A DAY (or 10 a week)
Sending messages on LinkedIn can seem a little intimidating at first, but it is much simpler than you think. It can take five minutes or less! Even if you have the busiest summer schedule ever, you can congratulate someone on a new job and take the time to catch up with them – maybe even schedule a coffee meeting to discuss their new position! Take the time to ask them questions and remember that networking is not about you. Reach out to someone with the same job title you have and ask how they might do something differently! You can also send someone an article that they may be interested in, along with your thoughts on the topic. Even though you are connected on LinkedIn, that is not enough to establish a relationship. You want to be personable and show your value. Reaching out to say, “I saw this and thought of you” not only establishes you as a knowledgeable contact, but as an acquaintance or friend.
5. ENGAGE MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
This could seem a little contradictory – after all, summer is made for spending time with family and friends! However, in between those lines for amusement park rides and long car trips to visit family members, login to your social media accounts and interact with people. If someone comments on a LinkedIn article you wrote, reply with some feedback. Retweet, share, and comment on other people’s posts, especially if it is someone you are trying to establish a relationship with. A simple comment can go a long way!
6. GO TO LUNCH OR AN EVENT WITH A CO-WORKER
Sure, you work with them every day, but that does not mean you really know your co-workers! Try attending a summer networking event together – it makes the task seem less daunting, plus you are building a better relationship with someone you see every day. If there are no events in your future, invite someone you work with to a patio lunch and ask them more about their day-to-day. This is especially true for those people you rarely work one-on-one with. You never know what helpful information a co-worker could offer you.
That’s it! These six, simple networking tips will ensure you are on your way to building your brand while enjoying your summer.
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– Martin Plumlee is the Owner and Senior Executive Recruiter for Plumlee & Associates (www.plumleeassociates.com), based in Franklin, Tennessee. For over 18 years, he has been a successful Sales Executive, Talent Strategist and Leadership Consultant. Outside of business, he loves his life and duties as a husband, father and Citizen-Soldier; Martin currently serves in the Army Reserves in Des Moines, IA. He has humbly served on both Active Duty and in the Reserves for over 15 years. He is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point (1994) and earned an MBA in International Business from Tennessee Technological University (2006). Please connect with him on LinkedIn and follow the firm on Twitter (@PlumleeAssoc) and Facebook (PlumleeAssociatesNashville).
– Julianna Christensen is a Recruiting Analyst and Corporate Fellow through the US Chamber of Commerce Hiring our Heroes Program. She is a 2013 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and commissioned as a Human Resources Officer in the US Army. Originally from Cincinnati Ohio, she is currently transitioning to the private sector following five years of active duty service.