You tweet. You’re on LinkedIn. You’ve got the online networking thing down. But what about offline? Are there some local networking opportunities to consider?
Consider your everyday life. You shop, you vacation, and you dine out; in all of those situations, you are encountering people. Life is the original social platform–minus the 140 characters. I have found myself in many situations that have led to great contacts–dinner parties, sporting events, even striking up a conversation with a stranger while waiting in the grocery checkout line. In your everyday world, the casual encounters of your daily routine can open up a network of connections with limitless possibilities. Consider some of these common–and not so common–places where people are networking offline:
Do you participate in local charity events or other community events that businesses might sponsor or participate in? Not only can you meet potential employers or talk to employees of companies you are interested in, you will likely meet many people with years of experience in your industry who can turn into good mentors or someone who can help you get a foot in the door. Tradeshows also offer a wealth of business contacts, especially since companies pay handsomely in sponsorships and usually have a strong onsite presence. Also, check out career fairs at local colleges–your campus Career Services office should have a listing of upcoming events.
In your local community, you may want to consider joining the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber exists solely to promote local business interests, so meetings are usually well attended by business leaders. Chambers meet regularly–often including monthly breakfasts with speakers and business after-hours networking–and are a great way to make an impression on those in your area.
Golf, Sports and More
It’s no secret that many business leaders enjoy a little networking on the golf course. So, if you golf, there is a great chance you could bump into a new contact on the course. But what about local sporting events where companies buy box seats or sponsor a night for their employees to attend? Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can make a casual conversation into something more about a specific company.
Now, consider this. There is a gym in New York City that recently began offering an exercise class for “sweat workers.” The idea is that some business leaders would like to opt out of lunch meetings at restaurants that pack a punch in calories, and get down to business while working out. While this option may not be for everyone, it’s an interesting trend to watch.
While being on social media is important, don’t discount everyday opportunities that present themselves. It’s a great feeling when you look at a crowd of people and realize that any one of them could add value to your job search and build your network.
Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.