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How to Engage in Casual Networking

How do you dress and behave while out and about on a daily basis? Keep this in mind: go about your daily activities looking and acting your best, because you may not know who you’ll be running into. The same goes for family BBQs, waiting for the bus, attending community events or doing your daily grocery shop – the potential to network with people while carrying out these activities is always possible, it just depends on how open you are to welcoming the opportunity. How can you take advantage of networking in a casual surrounding and do so effectively? We’ll go over a few suggestions and key points to consider when engaging in casual networking.

Work on your small talk

Figure out how to engage in small talk, starting with lighthearted comments about life, family, current news, etc. A great place to spark casual conversations with people you’re close with is during family BBQs. These events, although put together to bond with family and friends, will help you build your conversational skills. Plus, who better to pitch yourself to than to family and friends? They are operating with your best interests at heart, so if they know a friend of a friend that’s hiring, bring up your work situation while putting together your plate at the potluck table and you might just end up with a job at the end of it.

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Build on the foundation

Once the foundation is made through contact and a chat about your interests or common friends, ease into business topics. For example, if you’re interested in working in PR, bring up a recent item you saw in the news where something bad happened and how it was dealt with either poorly or properly. Then, you can ease into speaking about your take on it and how you would have handled things, making note of your current situation and what you learned in school/on the job. Stories and conversations surrounding current events are a great way to break the ice to discuss items that both parties may have heard about or have some interest in.

Make sure to keep up the momentum

Proper conversations shouldn’t be one-sided, so continue the momentum by asking the other person or people you’re speaking to about their lives, careers, and interests to see if they’ll offer up information you can build on. Now that they know what you’re currently up to, they may ask for your information at the end of the discussion, bringing you one step closer to employment.

Be prepared

If all goes well, be prepared to give out your contact information to your new career connection, which includes things like your cell phone number or email. If this is the case, make sure your email address is professional, ditching the unprofessional addresses for something simple like firstname_lastname@gmail.com.

Suggestions of locations to engage in casual networking:

  • BBQ
  • Sports game
  • Lunch/brunch
  • Hikes/walks

You’re now set to start networking – good luck!

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