SOMETIMES IT'S THE LEAST EXPECTED ENCOUNTER WITH THE MOST UNLIKELY PERSON THAT LEADS TO OUR NEXT GREAT PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITY.
During the course of our day, we run into numerous opportunities to expand and build upon our professional network, oftentimes when we least expect it. So what is the secret to discovering hidden networking opportunities? It’s simple: talk to people, even if you don’t think they can help you.
Whenever an opportunity for small talk arises, there's always potential to grow your network. That's the beauty of connections: even if the person you are talking with isn’t necessarily in your field, you never know who they may know or what golden nugget of knowledge you will take away.
Don’t be afraid to strike up conversation. Next time you are out and about, brush up on your small talk at these unlikely places for networking. You may be surprised to see where it may lead.
AT SPIN CLASS
While it may be the last thing on our minds when we emerge red-faced and dripping sweat after a solid spin sesh, local fitness studios and gyms are the perfect place to grow your professional network. Sweatworking is a thing!
Fitness studios are chock full of other motivated and driven individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds. Let the conversation flow at the water bottle fill-up station or while you’re waiting for Pilates to start.
Instead of scrolling your Instagram feed, chat up those standing [in line] around you.
IN LINE FOR ANYTHING
Between the grocery store checkout, burrito counter at lunch, doctor’s office and the restaurant bathroom, we spend more than a few of our waking hours waiting in lines.
Instead of scrolling your Instagram feed, chat up those seated or standing around you. Make a mild joke about waiting, ask about their favorite taco toppings, or simply inquire how their day is going.
Asking after someone else’s day not only passes the wait time, it may yield a new connection.
ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Take out those earbuds, it’s time to chat. Whether you’re on the bus for your morning commute or an airplane jetting off to your Hawaiian vacation, your fellow passengers are a ripe network just waiting to be tapped.
Start with passing along a compliment to the woman with the fabulous pendant necklace or perfectly styled hair, or ask about the book your neighbor’s reading and see where your conversation leads. Even if talk runs out with one person, you never know who is listening around you!
Donate a few hours of your time to give back to your community by volunteering with an organization you care about. Offer to assist with meal preparation at the soup kitchen, build houses with Habitat for Humanity, or play with pups at your local shelter.
As you work, chat with your fellow volunteers. Taking time to listen to their backstories and getting to know them as you sort canned goods may reveal a hidden career opportunity, valuable advice, or even a friendship.
The key to networking is focusing on building relationships and seeing where they go. Striking up friendly conversation is often the gateway to major life changes. Who knows? The person next to you in the dentist office waiting room may be your next boss.
Any opportunity for small talk is a chance to grow your network. All it takes is a friendly hello! and you’re off on your way to your next great career adventure.
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In what unexpected place did you have a great networking experience?