Think it’s too hard to network during summer because everyone’s on vacation? Think again! The summer season…like the holiday season…can be one of the best times to network. Take summer networking seriously!
Summer Networking, 5 Reasons Why You Should
Here are five reasons why summer networking is good:
- Everyone’s more relaxed. Summer parties lend themselves to late nights and long conversations. Take advantage of the slower pace to really get to know someone at a get together….whether it’s your company picnic, a block party or even the community pool. And, there are just more activities during the summer! Seek out and join in on company or industry softball leagues, golf outings and the like to up your networking opportunities.
- There’s less competition. Not that networking is a “competition,” per se, but if you are job hunting, or trying to get through to someone who’s typically tied up, the summer can be a good time since more people tend to let their job hunt or networking program languish. Therefore you might stand out as someone asking for the informational interview, or the base touch coffee, when others aren’t.
- People have more downtime. It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes, even though lots of people are gone, work places slow down to keep pace with the rest of the summer time world. Clients are on vacation; bosses are on vacation. It’s the perfect time for you to take advantage of a slower time at YOUR workplace, while also hoping for the same at the workplace of your potential contact.
- It’s easier to get away from the office. While you may find it easier to get away because work is less busy (as in No. 3), it’s also easier because “alternative” schedules are the norm. People are taking long weekends, or working more flexible hours because of childcare needs, so there is not the same pressure to be at your desk all the time. Take advantage of that vibe to schedule longer-than-normal networking lunches or coffees. Also, since networking activities are often designed to lead to a job opportunity, you’re often reticent to tell people where you’re going. Summer schedules allow you to take advantage of fewer watchful eyes.
- You have more opportunity to network with your own colleagues. Sometimes we forget the importance of networking within our own companies — but that can play a key role in internal advancement. The more people you know, at all levels in all departments, the easier it is to get things done collaboratively. And lunching with someone from a different department can give you the inside scoop to what’s going on there… is there an interesting project coming up? Are there openings in a department that interests you? By being connected within your company you are at an advantage for all this internal “gossip.”
A Few Caveats…
Summer fever can also lead to networking no nos.
- Don’t dress like you’re going to the beach. Whether you’re at a company picnic, an industry trade meeting or an informal networking get together, resist the urge to be too casual. It’s summer networking, not summer vacation. Women: no shorts, no sandals, no bare shoulders. Men: no athletic shorts, no flip flops, no tank tops (ever please).
- Don’t drink too much. A hot golf course and beer. A pool party and a frosty margarita. A dinner al fresco and some wine. Sometimes the summer season can lead to more imbibing than the holidays. Never forget that you must always offer a professional appearance. You don’t want coworkers, clients or potential clients to fear that you might be indiscreet…or worse.
- Don’t take too much advantage of the flexibility. Sure, flexible, shorter schedules can be had in summer. But, whether you are out and about networking or at the beach, your boss won’t know — and might suspect the worst. Don’t let your desire to take advantage of summer networking opportunities get you in hot water at your work. Continue to go above and beyond in the job you DO have.
by Cathie Ericson