Networking in the summertime is less stressful, more fun — and often more effective. Try it!
In most parts of the country, Christmas through New Year’s is the busiest time of the year. Or the back-to-school transition. Or Thanksgiving week.
In Seattle, it’s summer. Everyone is packing in as many barbecues, picnics, hikes, bike rides, outdoor concerts and ball games as humanly possible.
But maybe we should also squeeze in a few spare moments for career networking. When the sun’s out, more people are likely to be out and about. Our gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer weather puts everyone in a relaxed, mellow and more open mood. Many feel less pressed by job demands, while making mental plans to hit the ground running come September.
All this means that if you’re looking for a new job, or just seeking to expand your range of acquaintance, the ideal time to find a potential new boss or mentor is now.
Summertime networking differs from networking the rest of the year in that parties and other events are more specifically geared toward pleasure, meaning that your overtures must be more casual and low key. Forcing your business card or résumé on a bathing-suit-clad potential contact is awkward at best. Instead, focus on relationship building. Be real. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Don’t jump into business talk right away. In fact you may want to wait until the other person brings it up first.
Yes, do have your contact information handy, in case someone asks. And be ready with a pen or your phone to take note their contact info (most people don’t bring business cards to the beach).
As for networking groups — they may be more poorly attended in summer but this also means there’s less competition, so be sure to attend those meetings as often as you can. Even introverts might find that the more relaxed warm-weather atmosphere makes those meet-and-greets less of a trial, and perhaps even fun.
If you’ve been diligent about networking throughout the year, the summer is a natural time to reconnect. Inviting someone out for a patio happy hour or for a walk along the waterfront is a very pleasant way to stay in touch.
Don’t be tempted to take a summer break from career building. Let others do that — it opens up the field for you.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.