I have recently received several comments from different young executives expressing their limited opportunity for networking connections due to membership fees and lack of time. There are other, creative ways to network, even on limited time and a shoe string budget.
- A la carte. So your department can’t squeeze the $500+ in annual fees for your industry association…it doesn’t hurt to request the $25 fee to attend the monthly luncheon as a “guest”. If you attend every other month, that’s just $150, quite a savings while still offering plenty of opportunities to network. Even young professionals can usually come up with the extra cash if the answer is still a “no”. Investing in yourself and your professional development is always a wise choice.
- Find a tweetup. For those on Twitter (and those who are ready to test their hand at the Twitterverse) look for local tweetups you can attend. Search “#tweetup” and your city, such as “#Chicago,” and you’ll likely find more than a few gatherings that are open to new Twitter friends. If attending an industry tradeshow or conference, follow the event hashtag and be on the lookout for impromptu tweetups (or create one of your own using Twtvite!).
- Join a group (i.e. LinkedIn). Make yourself visible by occasionally posting a question and participating in the discussions that follow. A few active groups that may be of interest include the American Advertising Federation, Inbound Marketers, CRM Experts, and the International Association of Business Communicators (search for these groups after you’ve logged into your LinkedIn profile).
- Find a Meetup Group. If you haven’t explored meetups happening in your community based on specific shared interests, be sure to visit www.meetup.com. You’ll find various meetup categories, to include: “Literature & Writing”, “Photography”, “Tech” and “Socializing”. This tip falls more under the personal development category, but you never know who will be sitting next to you during the afternoon watercolor session.
- Look to Facebook. There are many open groups on Facebook for fellow professionals in your industry; places to post questions, network and find local meetings. Groups work best when you engage!
Bonus tip: Take an e-course. I covered a few of my summer favorites HERE , but online learning opportunities abound any time of the year. You can tackle the content on your own time and advance your knowledge and skill set at your own pace.