With Memorial Day weekend coming up, Summer is right around the corner and that means coming out of Winter hibernation and re-engaging with the world at large. This is especially true for those of you who are between jobs or are looking for that next big career move. Why? Because natural networking is the best kind, and the good weather provides for multiple opportunities to make new connections and strengthen older ones.
While the rest of the year is full of professional development events and calendar appointments, summertime is more relaxed. This is when you create genuine and friendly connections that you can come back to because of the authenticity of the relationship.
In case it has been a while since you have truly relaxed, here are a few tips on low-stress summertime networking.
Get some sun. Seriously, move the networking outside.
Lose the tie, let down your hair and get out into the sunshine. Attend local barbecues, take up tennis, play some golf. There are new people to meet everywhere and you never know where your new best friend is going to come from. One of the keys here is not to push things. Just be yourself and mingle. If you are trying too hard people will notice, and quickly run in the opposite direction. Just have fun; you might even run into a future employer at a Fourth of July block party.
Be a Boy Scout (or Girl Scout)
This is really networking 101, but you should always be prepared to encounter a contact. However, in warmer and more casual settings this takes a little more finesse. You can’t go the beach volleyball game with your resume and portfolio. The full job hunting tool box has to stay home. What you can have is a business card resume.
These are simple to create and super handy to have. Go to a local office supply store and get a pack of blank business cards. Then use your word processing program to create some simple resume cards. On one side include your contact info and professional title. On the reverse write out your branding statement and possibly 3-6 keywords. That is all there is to it, and best of all, it handily fits in a wallet or purse so that it can be ready at a moment’s notice.
Don’t Forget the One That Brung Ya’
We all remember high school. Everyone knows of the guy who showed up at the dance with one girl only to leave with another. It should go without saying, but, don’t be that guy (or girl). You have most likely spent the year cultivating relationships already. Just because the calendar turns to June doesn’t mean you forget them. Be sure to cement contacts you have already accumulated by inviting them to your Summer events as well. Keep in touch in a more casual setting.
To Give it to Receive
This time of year is great for volunteer opportunities. Do some good by giving back to your community and you may make some good friends along the way.
Just remember, whatever you do, do not neglect your networking for the Summer months. You can not expect to just jump back in the game come September. Career development is a full time job- make sure you stay in the game.