Trade shows and conferences aren't the only places to find and build valuable relationships. Check out a few more ideas that might be right under your nose.
The Masters Tournament is one of the many marks that spring is here--no doubt prompting many business leaders to dust off their nine irons and take a potential client out for a friendly match. The golf course, after all, is a traditional networking hub for would-be dealmakers and professional friendships.
So whether it's a first meeting or you're looking to meet some valuable contacts, here are four other places you may want to consider for networking.
1. The bar: Obviously, a little libation helps oil the hinges of pretty much any new encounter, including a professional one. The relaxed setting calms nerves and pulls down formality, enabling you and your new contact to discuss ideas more freely and constructively.
2. Where your kids are: For a parent, few decisions are more important than their child’s educational or daycare facility. That level of like-mindedness creates a community of parents that feel very connected to each other, says Pam Wolf, founder and director of New York Kids Club. “I absolutely see parents, and moms in particular, networking in our locations,” she said via email. “We go out of our way to facilitate natural connection through social and business introductions amongst our members.”
3. At sporting events: Sporting events, much like daycare pickup and dropoff, create an instant common ground. The relaxed setting is a great place to strike up a conversation with folks you might not otherwise have an excuse to talk with. Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation and Forbes contributor, suggests arriving early to walk around and scope out the crowd for potentially like-minded folks.
4. On an airplane: A couple of hours on a plane represent a rare opportunity for a little peace and quiet. The last thing you probably want to do is chat up your neighbor. But especially if you put a little thought behind your approach, an in flight chat could yield great business benefits.
Naturally, there’s a trove of apps to help you plan, such as Planely, Satisfly, and KLM's Meet and Seat, which allow you to share your travel and profile information with other travelers, and then arrange to sit with passengers whose interests align with your own.
JULIE STRICKLAND covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City. @Jules5168