Mackay Maxim: Even if you didn’t go to a school with an effective alumni network, you can always tap into your hobbies for new connections.
In order to successfully grow your network, you need to continually find new places to connect with different people. While almost anywhere can turn into a networking opportunity, here are four of the best places to start expanding your network.
Alumni networks give you a direct connection to people who went to the same institutions you did. Yes, some universities have better alumni networks than others, but chances are with so many graduates in one place, you’ll find one or two prime candidates to add to your network.
Thankfully, you don’t even need to be a graduate of a school to connect with the alums. Perhaps you know someone who went to a certain university who can connect you. Maybe you support a certain college sports team that you can use as a way to spark conversation. With so many universities out there, the potential networking pools are endless.
Industry associations bring together so many people from the same field, it’d be a waste not to network there. From clues about the competition to potential prospects for bringing in new talent, industry association meetings are rich places to pick up information and expand your network.
You never know what benefits can come from networking throughout your industry. Many founders got their start through meetings at industry associations. To truly tap into the potential of your network, join and participate in at least one association, if not more.
Does your network need to be all business and academics? Absolutely not. Clubs of all kinds can give the foundation for great networking, whether it’s golf, athletic, or purely social ventures. The important part is that you can meet others and build connections.
Since people who join social clubs often share personal interests, it’s easy to build meaningful connections. There’s also the benefit of familiarity, as members who see each other more often tend to feel more comfortable around each other. Social clubs also make a great place to entertain your other network members, providing something a little more exciting than serving dinner at home.
Almost everyone has some sort of hobby, and the majority of us have several. Because we enjoy our hobbies, it’s easy to enjoy talking about them with others who share the same interests. That also means it’s easy to add to your network by talking with these people.
Hobbies attract people from a broad spectrum, which can further expose you to new knowledge and experiences over time. With the internet, you can easily connect with people who share your hobbies around the world.
Astute networking can accomplish a lot, especially when you expand how far your network reaches. While you don’t want to pass up a networking opportunity that falls outside of these areas, don’t hesitate to scout out these readily available spots.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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