Common sense might suggest that summer is a bad time to make new business connections - people are gone on vacation, leave town on weekends, and there are fewer business events to attend. However, summer is actually a great time to develop new connections and deepen current ones. People are more relaxed and not as busy. And there's no reason you can't have some fun while connecting with others!
Here are some ideas that will hopefully inspire you to take advantage of the summer to get out of the office and grow your network:
Get tickets to a sports event and invite people you'd like to know better. A baseball game? If you like tennis, how about the U.S. Open in late August? Drinks at a sports bar for soccer fans? Invite people who don't know each other so they can expand their networks.
Have lunch at a scenic outdoor restaurant with a business friend. The Boathouse in Central Park, Rock Center Cafe, and Cafe St. Barts are convenient in midtown Manhattan. If you're downtown, the Southstreet Seaport and World Financial Center have terrific waterfront restaurants. If you can, go for a late lunch and take the rest of the day off.
Fishing? Golf? Hiking? Shakespeare in the Park?
Attend charitable and company events: golf outings, picnics, sailing, softball games. Don't worry that you aren't any good at the activity - think of the PR value of winning the prize for the worst score (spoken from first-hand experience).
Join a committee or volunteer to organize a program for a professional or non-profit organization - summer is when the events for the fall and spring are planned and it's a great way to build your brand name.
Organize a brown bag breakfast or dinner for friends, former colleagues or people you know with a particular interest; ask each person to bring another person. Meet in a park or in someone's home that has a backyard or balcony.
Back to school - if you have children from pre-K through college, you will likely have an opportunity to meet other parents at school orientations, move-in day, etc.
Reach out to a job seeker (or accept a networking request from someone who has contacted you); they are likely to be well connected from their job search efforts.
Too hot? It's cool inside Broadway shows, concert halls, and museums. If your group is all female, how about a day or half day at a spa?
Have fun! All work and no play make for a dull person. When business events start up in the fall and someone asks you how your summer was, you will have something interesting to say.
Wishing you a productive and fun rest of your summer.
Copyright 2007 Laura Hill
Laura Hill is founder and managing partner of Careers in Motion, a career coaching firm based in New York City. She works with individuals at all levels - from college graduates to senior executives - in the areas of career strategy and planning; market positioning; resume development; job search; interviewing skills; and negotiations.