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When you think about networking, it’s typical for a variety of scenarios to pop into your mind. First, you probably think about all of the uncomfortable networking encounters that you’ve experienced over a cheap glass of wine and cheese platter at a formal event. Or, perhaps you start tallying the amount of LinkedIn requests you’ve sent to professionals in your industry over the last month. You may even start pondering the not-so-awkward networking experiences you’ve had that turned into a job interview, finding a mentor, or even a friendship.
Most professionals have had their fair share of the good, bad, and the ugly when it comes to networking occurrences, and a lot of you may be left thinking, “where do I go from here?” Of course, traditional networking proves successful in many situations. However, that doesn’t mean the customary way of connecting with professionals is for you, or best for the industry you’re seeking to go into!
When it comes down to it, networking is all about having a stimulating conversation, which can happen anywhere! So, say so long to your traditional ideas of networking (name tags that say “hello my name is …”), and put your outgoing pants on. Here are seven unique places to network that have yet to be used to their fullest potential!
Waiting in Line
When standing in line grabbing your morning coffee or at the grocery store, it’s out of habit that we scroll through our Instagram feeds or catch up on our morning emails. Instead, why not strike up a friendly conversation with someone standing next to you?
We realize that you may not have deep career conversation standing in line at Whole Foods. Nevertheless, you have an opportunity to create a new acquaintance, and you never know what these small connections could lead to in the future!
You’ve probably attended some form of social event that was networking specific, like a university alumni association cocktail hour for example. While these types of formal events can be effective, there are so many other social opportunities to connect. From volunteer programs, weddings, tradeshows, speaking engagements, and even our Bloguettes 3-Day Workshops, there are plenty of occasions to encounter new professional acquaintances!
Keep in mind the one rule when shaking hands at social events: be respectful. There’s a huge difference between striking up a conversation with the wedding guest next to you and handing out your business card to everyone who steps in line to sign the guest book.
We understand the frustration of explaining time and time again the concept of content strategies to your grandmother. While politely saying “no thank you” to the amusing offer to work alongside your aunt’s friend’s sibling, family functions could be just the place to find an undiscovered connection. Even at best, you’ll learn valuable information that can help you in your professional endeavors.
Perhaps while jetting around the world or taking a cross-country road trip is your time to shine. Chatting up the patron next to you might bring the connection you’ve been waiting for. Networking while traveling could present an in-depth connection, especially if you’re on a longer flight from NYC to Los Angeles, or flying internationally. Obviously, some of your fellow passengers may not be ecstatic about talking about work while they’re trying to sleep on a red eye. Again, just be respectful. Begin with small talk, and expand to other topics as the conversation builds.
The nail salon is probably one of the most overlooked networking destinations. From personal experience, jobs are landed while picking out what color of gel polish you prefer this month. Sometimes, conversations with your nail technician can be forced and uncomfortable, or there’s no conversation at all, but this is the ideal time to put your outgoing pants on to strike up a conversation with the woman next to you! For all you know, you could have a total Elle Woods Delta Nu moment, like in Legally Blonde 2.
In the end, remind yourself that networking really is just a conversation. Take a breather from uncomfortable formal networking events, and let your personality shine through as you begin to expand your mind to these unique locations!
Do you have success networking in other unique locations? Let us know in the comments below! Also, be sure to keep up with us on Bloglovin’!