It is amazing how many times I hear people tell me there is no one to talk to in the summer because everyone is either on vacation or at the cottage. I find that hard to believe because I do some of my best networking and business during the summer months. I actually find people much more receptive to meeting with me and having coffee or lunch on a sun-drenched patio soaking up the rays with the cool breeze rustling their hair. I also notice that they are not watching the clock like they do when they are in full business mode, they are open to being more spontaneous and often enjoy including their family as well.
Here are six networking ideas for you to think about over the coming month to fill what might be an otherwise empty calendar and set you up with new opportunities when everyone is back in full swing come this September.
- Invite that person you have been trying to get in front of to join you for coffee or lunch – now I realize that does not sound like something new but here is the twist. Invite them to pick the location and you can either offer to pick them up or meet them depending on logistics. Small talk on the way there might start some interesting conversation with a question such as: “Cheryl is __________ your home town or did you grow up somewhere else?” and it also works well as a conversation starter when you meet them there. If it is their hometown, do you think they might know one or two other business owners or individuals they could potentially introduce you to? If it is not their hometown you can ask them what brought them to live here. Either way this can be a door opener to being introduced to others.
- Take coffee and baked goods to a small business that you have not approached yet – reach out to a small business owner you have been wanting to connect with and ask if you might drop in to introduce yourself as you are planning to be in the area. Share that you would like to bring iced coffee and a bakery treat with you for them and their employees. Reach out to an existing client who owns a bakery and ask them to put everything together for you to take. This gives your existing client an opportunity to advertise their business and you will gain high marks for doing so. If you do not already have a client that owns a bakery think of one in your area that you would like to approach and let them know you’re interested in partnering with them to deliver some treats to your client. Just like that, you have another new prospect!
- Take a look at your client base to see who is having a birthday in August – instead of simply sending a birthday card or calling them, get a birthday cake and show up in person to deliver it. Use the same idea about an existing bakery client or a new one you would like to connect with. Delivering the cake in person will put you in front of your client and their employees who could be potential introductions for you. It also puts you in front of anyone else who might come to the office to wish their friend a happy birthday in person and either you are on site and get introduced or they ask where the cake came from.
- Do you have clients who are stay at home parents with children? – not everyone can manage to get away on vacation nor does everyone have a cottage. Therefore, if you do have clients like this arrange a visit to the local splash pad or park and supply the cold drinks and popsicles for everyone. Invite your clients to bring a friend that you do not know. Make this a casual outing but do not make it a sales pitch or try to get everyone’s contact information as you can always circle back to your client later and ask for this information. Here is an article of 101 fun things to do with kids this summer and I am sure you can find something that you might be able to use.
- Do you live in a town with a small local movie theatre? – the theatre owner may be experiencing a slow summer Approach the owner to find out if they would be open to you renting their theatre for an afternoon for a private viewing for your clients and their families. Invite your clients to come and again bring a friend you do not know but make it a casual outing and follow up for contact details and next steps at a later date.
- Throw an impromptu community fundraising event – not everything in life should be difficult and especially in the summer, follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Silly). What better time than summer to pick a cause and throw an event to support it. Enlist the help of other business owners in the community and use it as an opportunity for everyone involved to invite clients, friends and family to join in. Every new person who comes to the event is a potential introduction for you down the road. Here are two great ideas I came across:
Have a charitable yard sale: Organize a neighborhood yard sale and donate all the proceeds to your favorite charity or community cause. Plan a barbeque after the sale and get everyone together for some hot dogs, hamburgers, and s’mores. You can also ask a few charities to come to the sale and talk to people about their organizations. Ask people to make a personal contribution as well.
Volunteer outside: In every community, there are public areas that always need volunteers to help with the upkeep. Talk to your town or city officials and determine where and when you and other attendees can help the community. It may be picking up trash, building a rock wall, or planting trees. Whatever it is, spend a few hours helping out and then regroup for an outdoor party in someone’s backyard. Set up an outdoor movie theater, serve popcorn, and enjoy the warm weather.
Not everything you do from a networking perspective requires months in the planning stage nor does it need to break the bank. Summer is an opportune time to do something that is more laid back, spontaneous and simply a lot of fun so put your thinking cap on and try something new. You will be amazed at the results you might be able to achieve and the new people you will meet.
I would love to hear about summer networking ideas you have used so please share in the comments section below.
Thanks and to your success!