Networking isn’t just reserved for conference rooms and hotel lobbies anymore. Real life networking extends far beyond career sites like LinkedIn and social media sites like Facebook. The tried-and-true networking techniques of your grandfather’s era are simply overdone. Millennials want something more. So it’s time to make networking fun again. Here are three ways to meet new people and make professional connections — without all that boring, stuffy, suit-and-tie stuff.
Climb up the Business Ladder, or Mountain
According to a report by ABC News, 80 percent of jobs today are landed by networking. But this goes beyond the basic elevator pitch. Finding work takes work, and sometimes you have to get a little creative, even a bit unconventional.
Successful professionals have a secret. They exercise and take time to connect with nature. Ryan Kania, founder of Advocates for World Health, tells Entrepreneur magazine that he hikes between one and four hours each weekend to de-stress and go over the previous week. Kania also takes along a notebook to jot down business ideas.
This weekly habit doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. Take your networking efforts to new heights, and explore all of the opportunities around you. You can organize a recurring event in your neighborhood or with co-workers, peers and new friends who share the same interests or work in the same industry as you. Use Meetup, the world’s largest network of local groups, to organize your event. Simply select a location, describe what your group is and pay a small fee. You never know who you might run into on the trails.
Plan Fun Networking Events
The business experts at Fast Company say, “If you’re bored at networking events, you’re doing it wrong.” And they might be on to something. They state that our business lives should be joyful. By focusing on the fun aspects, employees are more willing to come to the event, open up and have fun.
Plan after work events, such as a round of mini golf, trivia or bowling. Capture it all via your smartphone, and then link up with the social media expert in the office to post your best photos to your company’s social media pages. Cellphones like the Google Nexus 6 make capturing these moments possible with optimal image stabilization and a 2MP front-facing camera for the best selfies ever. And don’t forget your selfie stick.
These fun events show your employees that your company values team-bonding and networking, and they show potential candidates that your company is fun to work for.
Attend a Conference
Sometimes you have to keep it professional. But that still doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Conferences can have a fun side. For example, FitBloggin invites fitness bloggers and other like-minded professionals to its annual weekend-long conference each year to participate in a welcome mixer, small group discussions led by wellness professionals, personal branding workshops and writing labs. Attendees even have the chance to get their sweat on by participating in daily workouts like yoga, high-intensity cardio, fun runs and Zumba with other guests. FitBloggin shows that networking can be professional and fun at the same time.
Ready to network? Use the conference search tool Lanyard to find an event in your area.