For most people, one of the greatest challenges when it comes to networking is actually breaking the ice and knowing what to say. But the truth is that networking should really be a natural connection to build long-lasting business relationships. These connections can happen in a relaxed, casual setting just as well as they do in corporate environments. In fact, if you’re not a natural networker, the unconventional setting may likely work better for you. All it takes is some common interest and a friendly disposition. Read ahead for five great, unconventional places to network without even really trying.
- Beer or Wine Tasting – One of the major challenges for most people when it comes to networking is the pressure to make natural, relaxed conversation. Finding yourself at a wine or beer tasting almost immediately takes care of that problem. In this situation, sharing a love of food and quality wine or beer allows for a less tense circumstance for meeting new people and talking about common interests and industries.
- Weddings – Weddings are joyous occasions that bring together friends and family from all corners of the couple’s individual lives. If you find yourself at a wedding table filled with people you’re not quite familiar with, break the ice by asking about what they do for a living. You may find you have more in common than you realize.
- Beauty Salon – This is the one common place that unites women (and plenty of gentlemen) from all walks of life and businesses under short periods of relaxation. If you are in the pedicure chair, chances are you can find someone on your left and right who is willing to chat. Not everyone likes to strike up conversation at the salon, but many people do. And when you get the cue to chat, don’t be shy. Start off by complimenting their nail polish choice and take it from there.
- Kid’s Birthday Parties – Often times, when it comes to kids’ birthday parties, the guest list is dominated by kids who may be in the same circles due to their age, family relationships, or are in the same class or school, making the parents who attend mostly strangers to each other. Rather than hanging back awkwardly by the refreshments, reach out and make conversation with another parent in the same situation. They’ll probably be glad you did.
- Charity Events – Charity events are a great place to network with like-minded people. Though they are often wonderful events held to raise money and awareness for a valuable cause, the truth is it’s filled with people from all kinds of different industries who don’t necessarily know one another. If you find yourself in a room of active, community-driven people, chances are they’ll be open to networking and getting to know as many people as possible.