50 Fun Things® to Nurture Your Network
Updated: Jan 27
On March 10, 2020, I facilitated 50 Fun Things to Grow and Strengthen Your Network for an OffiCenters POWERHOUR. Many of the ideas generated by the group apply to in-person networking because this was just before the seriousness of the pandemic hit. (I'll continue to hold hope that we'll get to network more in person again.) I'll list the ideas that work for virtual networking first since they are most applicable for our current circumstances.
The list below is inspired by what members of OffiCenters brainstormed together:
For online or in-person networking
Focus on forming friendly relationships first and foremost
Reconnect with favorite people
Be a Connector. Introduce people who you believe would find value in knowing each other. Tell each of them about why you think they would want to know the other so they don't need to guess.
Wear something that fits your branding (e.g. scarf in your brand colors) to make your brand more memorable.
Participate in Happy Hours or Coffee Chats
Host an event or virtual event
Be the leader of a group
Even if you aren't leading the group, try to have a role. Having a role makes it easier to make connections and boosts confidence, too!
Participate in a mastermind group to gain insights and support. (I facilitate WINners Circle masterminds and provide tools and guidance for others to lead WINners Circles, too. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to learn more.)
Mentor or be a mentee
Use only the social media that you most enjoy and receive results from. Don't try to use social media platforms that aren't rewarding to you.
Casual conversations foster connection.
Take a class on something you want to learn. Chime in to the conversations and ask questions. Classes draw people with similar interests and make it easier for us to connect with each other especially when we fully participate.
Choose networking opportunities that are personally interesting to you (e.g. format or topic). That way even if you don't make great connections, you still receive value.
Introduce yourself in the way you most want to be remembered vs trying to include everything about you.
Request informational interviews with people you'd like to get to know and learn from. Express appreciation and provide value to them where you can.
Show up! Most opportunities come from simply showing up.
Lift others up by complimenting what they are good at or what you appreciate. Online, tag them to help drive visitors to their site, too.
Network with the types of people who most energize you and are the best fit for your goals (e.g. Women in Networking, referral groups or Chambers of Commerce)
Network during the time of day where you most come alive. If you aren't an early bird or you fade in the afternoon, try to avoid those times when possible.
Try out Speed Networking for a fast-paced way to meet lots of people. Guess who loves to facilitate Speed Networking? Click here to view Speed Networking events offered through Women in Networking or contact me at email@example.com about facilitating a valuable Speed Networking experience for your group!
Join a fan club and get to know people with similar interests.
Keep up on current events so you are never at a loss for conversation.
Listen to understand and relate instead of to promote and impress.
Make a list of your favorite people in your network and check in with them regularly.
Be a resource. Share helpful ideas, insights and articles.
Conversation starter: Ask others to share what they are most proud of or excited about.
Set goals for your networking and celebrate when you achieve them!
Join an online business book club.
Join or start a special interest group (e.g. on LinkedIn or Facebook).
Find an accountability partner you can share your goals with. Check in regularly to make sure each of you stays on track.
Express gratitude for people who have been helpful in your network (e.g. send a card, note, post appreciation on their page, write a great review for their business).
Post interesting and relevant updates and resources on LinkedIn.
Write articles to generate conversations and ideas. Who knows, you could become a thought leader in your industry!
Co-working! "Water cooler" conversations can naturally happen when you co-work that don't happen when you work from home.
Attend events with your favorite clients or colleagues.
Wear a conversation starter (e.g. an interesting accessory, especially if it has a story behind in that relates to how you want to be known) that helps break the ice.
Try new experiences with your network (e.g. a team-building cooking challenge, ax throwing, lawn bowling, parent/kid activities with other families, golf outing that pairs seasoned golfers with those who want to learn, Scotch tasting, art or cultural experiences, storytelling are some of the ideas this group generated)
Gather with others with similar interests (e.g. through MeetUp), learning a new language, gain cultural awareness, philosophy, adventures, activities)
Focus on conversations vs selling.
Fun in moderation (avoid overeating or over-imbibing by focusing on the people and not the refreshments).
Be a sponsor, tabler or speaker at events. It helps elevate your visibility and memorability by standing apart as a resource or expert.
Have a signature thing you share or hand out (e.g. a sample, an informative report, a top ten list)
Volunteer for something you believe in and get to know the other volunteers
Serve on a board of directors to apply your skills in a meaningful way
Open yourself up to meeting random people. Conversations in the check-out lane, people seated next to you before a game or concert begins.
Networking isn't always called "networking" -- do the activities you enjoy and be open to connecting with new people.
Try out new ways and places to network. Sample different groups and formats. Take notes on what you like and want more of and what isn't a fit.
Instead of the standard coffee meeting go for "walk and talks." You can still meet and enjoy fresh air and scenery at the same time.
For "coffee" meetings, order a beverage you really enjoy (e.g. chai, latte, something fancy vs the standard coffee) to make the meeting feel more fun and special.
Look for book launch events by your favorite genres of authors.
Accept and extend cool invitations to network.
Learn to make a new meal or host a game night with other people you'd like to get to know better.
Go on a retreat, get-away or conference that interests you.
Accept and extend cool invitations.
Network at your favorite places (e.g. co-working location, local coffee shop or cool restaurant).
What ideas will you take action on to nurture your network? Thanks to OffiCenters for bringing me in to facilitate this special themed session of 50 Fun Things for their clients!
Are you planning an event and looking for a fun, useful and transformative experience for participants? Contact me about bringing a 50 Fun Things or Win/Win Networking social mixer to your next live or virtual event!