Meeting other business leaders is one of the highest-leverage activities you can adopt. Making meaningful connections with other entrepreneurs and professionals offers a number of advantages. It can expose you to new ways of thinking, offer unique ideas to help build your business, or present viable future partnership opportunities. Moreover, it can be enjoyable to talk with someone outside your usual circle of acquaintances.

The key to networking effectively is to be thoughtful about who you reach out to. Just because someone has an impressive resume or is a CEO doesn't necessarily mean they're a worthwhile connection for you.

When thinking about who to talk with, consider your interests. Do you want to meet other CEOs in your field to talk shop? Do you want to chat with experienced investors and founders for advice? Being purposeful in your approach will make your networking more effective, as well as help the conversation flow more smoothly.

With that in mind, here are six of the best places to look for other business leaders to connect with and help accelerate your productivity, learning, and success.

1. LinkedIn

Perhaps the obvious place to start is LinkedIn. What's not so obvious is how to best use it to suit your needs.

There are thousands of engaging people out there for you to talk with. LinkedIn offers a way to perform targeted searches. If you go to the search bar at the top left, the interface lets you search for individuals at a specific company, people in specific roles, or those who were alumni of your college or university, among other potential parameters.

Taking advantage of LinkedIn's granular search functionality gives you a list of people to reach out to, who you may have some sort of connection with, and who may be able to meet your specific interests.

2. Twitter

Twitter is an under-appreciated medium to find new connections. It can seem like a loud, noisy party filled with people you don't know, but by being selective in how you approach the platform, you can find worthwhile potential relationships to foster.

By following your favorite influencers and thinkers, you'll see who they are engaging with, as well as who is engaging with them. This offers you a ready-made, self-selecting group of people with shared interests.

You can see who is sharing the kind of content that intrigues you, as well as those who have ideas you find novel. These are the perfect people to reach out to for networking.

3. Conferences and events

Conferences, events, and meetups are popular places for leaders to gather and connect. By attending the right events, you'll have the chance to meet others with similar interests who are actively looking to connect with new people.

Of course, some events are more of a waste, with a low value output for your investment of time and energy. The best approach is to focus on finding the events that you (or your peers) know and trust. When you are there, ask meaningful questions and follow up with new contacts you find engaging.

4. Your well-connected friends

When someone you trust recommends that you connect with someone they know, always take them up on the offer, at least for an introduction. It's an extremely high-impact, low-time method to meet someone you'll likely enjoy meeting.

Furthermore, if you share your networking goals with well-connected friends, they can introduce you to others who meet those needs. Taking advantage of these super-connectors who can serve as a filter and offer valuable introductions is a no-brainer.

5. Online communities of interest

Whether you are passionate about blockchain or sales forecasting, there are online communities for just about everything. Social-media groups, blogs, websites, and forums offer a beneficial way to connect with others who share your interests.

Exploring the communities you associate with and diving into them is a targeted way to meet other leaders. For example, if you are into building new projects and meeting hustlers from around the world, explore the Product Hunt community, where people post new products and engage in conversations every day.

6. In daily life

Recently, I was at a bar after work and started up a conversation with the lady next to me who worked for the government. She connected me to a few of her friends, and it lead to fruitful conversation, as well as support on a research project.

It's easy to forget we're often surrounded by talented, brilliant people, even when we don't know much about them. You may be sitting next to these folks in a Lyft, at dinner parties, on airplanes, or at the local coffee shop.  

Always be open to getting to know those around you. At worst, you'll have a few minutes of boring conversation--but the experience just might turn into a meaningful connection.

Published on: Nov 12, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.