We are always talking and writing about networking. Why? Because it’s very important. So, it’s summertime; people are barbequing in the back yard, picnicking and Networking!!! Let’s look at networking again this time... networking at parties, cookouts and picnics.
Remember the old Nat King Cole song, Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer... but summer is no time to be lazy when you’re looking for a promotion or a new job. It’s really a great time to connect with new people in a pleasant atmosphere. People are feeling good, having a beverage to drink and some good comfort food.
It’s a great time to connect, but!!! Yes, what do you say to folks? (Well I’m going out on a limb here, against stuff a lot of people before me have told you.) What do you say, not your elevator speech. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. My friend and management guru Joe Takash is quoted as saying:
Most 'elevator speeches' make the listener want to take the stairs. If you struggle, (which most of us do), in swiftly describing what you do and the value you provide, practice and get feedback.
Take the pressure off yourself and go the the party, picnic or cookout to have fun. Instead of looking for opportunities to give your elevator speech, look for opportunities to say hi. I like to hang out near the drink cooler or keg. “Hi, can I buy you a beer? By the way, I’m Thomas, here you go.” (I only offer beer or wine to persons over 21 years of age with appropriate identification.) It’s a great way to meet everyone at a party. And by introducing myself, people tend to introduce themselves.
At many cookouts the “guys” hang around the grill. It’s a guy thing. My wife says that the only reason why men will cook food on a grill is because there is an element of danger. That may be true, or it may be because our ancient ancestors cooked their fresh kills over an open fire and it is in our DNA and it just feels right. Regardless, it’s a safe place to hangout and listen and talk to the fellas.
At those parties, the ladies congregate with one another over a number of different activities. Sadly, I really don’t have any idea what the women are doing, because I’m a guy and I’m hanging out near the dangerous Weber Grill. But, this is also a great place to say hi, meet new people and connect. It’s been reported to me that women are far more likely to talk and share than men do and I pretty much believe that to be true.
It doesn’t matter which group you are in, just meet new people and then connect with them. As if they are on LinkedIn or Facebook or Pinterest or Google+ or any social media. Then follow up, invite them to join your network, friends, follow your pins or join your circles. Then follow up again and invite them for coffee and there you can share your elevator speech.