Networking doesn’t stop during the summer—it just goes outdoors! Professional associations and charitable organizations know that adding outdoor fun to events boosts attendance. A lighter mood prevails, making networking during summer events feel more like fun than work. It’s a way to get to know people in settings that are a little more casual than in other seasons. But summer networking can be just as effective as during the rest of the year. A few pointers to keep your networking active during the summer:
When the setting is casual, networking takes a different tone. It may not feel like working, because you’re outside on the water or looking out over a scenic vista. But summer networking is still about building relationships and getting to know potential referral sources and clients. Keep the conversation a little lighter. Sharing vacation plans or what the kids are up to this summer can be a great way to learn about people’s personal lives. Try to read the room—if everyone’s talking golf games and backyard barbeques, a conversation about accounting software for law firms won’t make you the life of the party.
Summer festivals and fairs are part of the community. Most towns host at least one fire department parade or summer carnival. We don’t want you volunteering for the “dunk tank” booth, but serving on the organizing committee or being a sponsor is a great way to build name recognition in a smaller sized town.
Plan client appreciation events that include the grandchildren. If you live in an area with summer day camps, see if they will allow you to “rent” the camp for a Saturday or Sunday event. These facilities usually have swimming pools, volley ball courts and other play areas. Have the right staff, equipment and consider bringing in a caterer and wait staff so that you can spend time mingling with clients and not sweating over a hot grill.
Summer-themed fun includes free tickets to baseball games or outdoor concerts. Tickets to a major league baseball team will put a smile on anyone’s face, even hard-to-please clients. Don’t overlook other summer tickets: music festivals, outdoor theater, even minor league baseball teams. During the course of the year, use your E2-CRM to note client interests. A couple who love baseball will be thrilled to receive a pair of tickets to their favorite local team. They’ll be impressed that you remembered!