If you could spend part of your networking hours cultivating relationships with people who share your interests and passions, that would sound quite ideal in my estimation. You are connecting with people who you already share 'like minded interests'. Sharing activities you are already passionate about gives you an instant connection with a variety of people including your clients and prospects and this is an extremely valuable networking opportunity. So how do you start– 1. Identify your areas of passion and focus on the one or two activities that might deliver the highest concentration of new connections.
- Choose an activity that you are genuinely interested in. The goal of this approach is to make networking even more enjoyable.
- Think about your current activities. Do they offer a strong potential for meeting your ideal client(s).
- If not, consider other areas of interest that may present this opportunity.
- List places where people with the same interest tend to naturally congregate. Consider:
- What events do they attend?
- What venues do they frequent?
- What clubs do they belong to?
- Schedule and/or attend two to three events each quarter based on your personal interests. 4. With a variety of groups and organizations that you may tap into- time is always a factor. Think of using my '2-2-2' theory here. 1.Attend two meetings or events- This will help you in several ways:
- You will experience the organization or group first hand.
- You will see whether the organization will meet your particular needs.
- You will meet people involved in the organization.
- You can access a schedule of events and find out their long-term goals.
- 2.Meet two people and exchange contact information.
- You can ask specific questions about the organization, such as who regularly attends, whether the meetings you attended are typical, and how you can benefit from the group.
- You can find out what kinds of people participate in the group.
- 3.Arrange two follow-up meetings for breakfast, lunch, or coffee. This step is great for its long-term benefits:
- If you join, these two relationships can multiply into many relationships within the group.
- Regardless of whether you join or not, you now have two new connections and can start to build the relationship.
Commitment required If you join a group, commit to participating regularly. These meetings are your opportunity to build relationships and cultivate your network. Ongoing activity and communication will keep you visible. Some best practices to keep in mind:
- Volunteer to help out with the group’s events or projects. Before organizing an event, ask for input and feedback about your ideas.
- Be prepared to describe your job—When someone from with an organization you belong to asks, “What kind of work do you do?”, have a short, memorable answer ready to go. Say something that describes your specialty, such as “I help people plan for retirement” or “I help small business owners manage financial risk.”
Where to go….
- Do a web search for affinity groups and events in your local area.
- Join online communities for your area of interest via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
- Look for meet up's in your community based on your specific interests.
When you connect with someone over a shared passion, it creates a powerful instant affinity and common bond. A shared passion provides the basis for not only an easy and engaging conversation, it also lays the groundwork for ongoing communication.