To meet new people and broaden your network, it helps to set up scenarios that allow you to easily speak with people and get to know them. Just as you wouldn’t schedule an intimate dinner date at a loud and boisterous restaurant, you’ll want to conduct some of your hobby networking in groups where it’s easy to have one-on-one or small-group conversations. It’s even better if the groups encourage you to do so. And so, if you want to make sure you’re optimizing your networking time, consider the below suggestions when deciding upon your next hobby.
1. Book Clubs
While these may be centered on business or professional topics, any book club may help facilitate networking. You’ll obviously have something in common with everyone there, since you’ll all have read the same book, and it’s easy to get to know people when you’re discussing it. Participants are likely encouraged to share some of their personal experiences, so you’ll be able to learn details to help you connect on a one-to-one basis at a later time.
Typically, gardening is a quiet activity, so it will be easy to chat and get to know people in a gardening club. If you’re a master gardener or expert, you can share your valuable expertise, which can help inspire people to open their networks to you. Alternatively, if you want to learn to grow better flowers or vegetables, asking questions of experts will help make them feel valued and important, which is useful if you want to tap into their expertise about professional topics.
Similar to gardening, if you’re a great cook, you can join a class or group and share your expertise. If you set yourself up as a go-to resource, you can attract positive attention and win new friends. If you want to improve your skills, you’ll provide someone else an outlet to share their expertise.
While some people who are very serious about their art may prefer to engage in their passion in silence, you should be able to find classes that would welcome someone interested in art and conversation. Take a class or join a group dedicated to painting, throwing pottery, or another art form and you could meet several new contacts.
Sports teams make great networking venues, but some are, admittedly, better than others for getting to know each other. Golf is a stereotypical, go-to hobby for professionals because it attracts people who tend to be a bit more affluent and who have some time on their hands. Of course, there is a lot of time on the course to exchange information and stories.
Do you enjoy nature trails and exploring new areas? Even urban areas have walking clubs. Walking side-by-side offers many opportunities to engage in conversation, which makes it an easy way to get to know people. Compared to a cycling group for example, a walking club provides a lot more time to talk.
Select a cause that really resonates with you, and you’ll likely be able to find a group that would welcome you to network with them. If you become very involved in the organization, especially in leadership roles, you’ll not only meet a lot of new people but also demonstrate your skills. This may help convince people of your professional credentials, and help them feel more comfortable referring you to meet someone they know who should also be in your network. Even if you choose a passion that has nothing to do with your professional expertise, such as stocking food for a pantry, try to insert yourself in situations where it’s easy to meet new people and get to know them. Plus, research shows hiring managers appreciate people who volunteer, so if you spend your time helping others, you’ll likely help raise your profile too.
Of course, these suggestions do not include every hobby that could be great for networking. If you want your hobby hours to double as networking time, consider the advantages of what these activities offer: quiet environments, easy access to one-on-one or small group conversations, and opportunities to get to know the people around you.
This post was adapted from the new Vault Guide to Networking.
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