Why fall is the best time of year for making new business connections
Autumn is prime time for networking events as business associations and networking groups increase their offerings. Plus, there’s something satisfying about revving up your networking participation after the summer networking doldrums. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, makes one of the best arguments for why this networking effort matters. “People control resources, opportunities and information,” he says. “Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They’re attached to people. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for a person.”
Here are five ways to maximize your prime networking months.
1. Mix it up
Each week during this fall season, commit time to online searching “networking events” in your area. Often the best events pop up at the last minute. Business-dress–one-drink-ticket–hotel-ballroom affairs aren't the only kind of events to look for (not that there's anything wrong with them). Go on the Eventbrite website and search for networking events in your city. Our quick scan provided 20 pages of gatherings for everyone and every interest. And check out this list from BCBusiness.
2. Buddy up
Is there someone in your organization you could team up with? What about inviting someone from another line of business in your company? Or is there someone in your network, a client or potential client, you could take to the event? Networking is always easier with a tag teammate, plus it’s a good way to reconnect with someone in your network. If you can’t find a tag teammate, don’t let that stop you. Here are the best tips for when you are networking solo.
3. Give others a heads up
When you find an event that looks interesting to you, you’re pretty much guaranteed that there are other people in your network who would also find the event interesting. Send them the link and let them know you’ll be attending. Now, they’ll know at least one person!
4. Dig in
After attending that first new networking event, you may wonder if this is a group for you. Make the investment in attending a number of events the organization offers, and do it over a relatively short period of time. You'll quickly find that the awkwardness that comes from walking into a room will disappear as you start growing your network within that organization.
5. Assess your effort
If you’re serious about building your network, try to go to at least one event a week. We understand that this is a big time commitment, but if you’ve decided to go for it, then make sure you also take the time to evaluate your networking effort. When December rolls around, measure the success of the events you have attended and the number of new people in your network. Then adjust your plan, or keep doing what you’re doing.
Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, principals of Shepa Learning Company, are keynote speakers and authors of Work the Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life (Penguin/Prentice Hall). They teach the skills of networking and communication to corporate clients, universities and business associations. Please sign up for their free weekly networking tip, it’s always under 200 words.