6 of the Best Places to Network for Business | Local Networking

Gabrielle C. King

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We’ve all had the importance of networking drilled into our heads from the moment we entered sales. Everybody has a different approach to the practice. One person might be able to work a room like a pro, shaking hands and making small talk with everyone in the building, leaving with a pocket full of business cards or a dozen new contacts in their phone. For many others, it doesn’t come as naturally, and they have to work at always staying outside their comfort zone.

But one trick is to network in places you know well. By selecting places that you already frequent, you can count on at least the environment feeling comfortable and the faces being familiar. Here is a list of places local to you that you should frequent and use to expand your network.

Your local gym

Here we suggest approaching employees first. They are the gatekeepers to everyone who goes in and out, so they are of the highest value. You also want to strike up a conversation with those who you often see. Make a point of finally taking the first step to say, “I see you here all the time. My name’s [your name]. What are you working on today?” Hopefully, this will encourage the other person to offer their name, and you can take the conversation from there.

Your local place of worship

If you’re involved with a local place of worship then it’s essential that you become your congregation’s go-to agent. Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to be too aggressive, but at the same time, be outgoing and make sure everyone knows what you do and that you’re eager to help anyone in any way. If you’re inclined to join a study group, volunteer as a youth coordinator, assist with building and ground maintenance, or meet some other need, these can all be great opportunities to build relationships.

Your local Meetup group

Meetup.com is an awesome website where you can find like-minded people who are interested in a hobby that you pursue. Maybe you enjoy rock climbing or discussing literature or sci-fi films—whatever you enjoy is likely to be enjoyed by others. Find like-minded folks, and the conversation will be easy to fall into.

There are also professional meetings on Meetup, with many of them focused on sales and different industries like real estate. These can be great places to find connections that lead to referrals, and perhaps, even the occasional client.

Your local charities

It has become increasing important to consumers that the businesses they support have a purpose greater than making a profit. Volunteering at a local charity can be a great way to give back to the community you serve, connect with caring people, and get your name out there.

Your local community college

Yes, I’m suggesting your go back to school. Whether you take a public speaking course or a painting class, it’s never too late to learn something new. And a classroom with even ten adults represents ten more people you can add to your database of contacts.

Your next step

Ask questions (and listen to questions others ask)

Networking is essential to successful business because, as we’ve often said, business is built on relationships. Fulfilling and lucrative relationships require that you operate with total authenticity. Take the time to get to know new people and give them a chance to get to know and trust you. When the time is right, you can ask them what they do for a living or how work is going—they’ll naturally ask you the same. (For more conversation starters and tips, download a free copy of our Small Talk/Networking Scripts.)

When that happens, you can tell them you’re a real estate agent, financial advisor, insurance broker, or whatever.  Make a point to offer to help connect them with other people and other services they may need—don’t lead with your own services because it may come across as insincere; plus, you want to give value before you get value. 

Now pick one of these local establishments and put yourself out there. Not only will you end up with new relationships, but you may just gain new business opportunities.

Small Talk/Networking Scripts

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