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Social Networking On Your Day Off

Social networking seems very easy for some people. They can walk into a room and in a few minutes they'll be talking and getting to know the most important people there. 

They're lucky, many others have trouble with basic networking skills. This can cost them job opportunities, customers, and chances to advance their career.

Still, even if you're an introvert, you can increase your network, helping your job opportunities and expanding your career options. The best part is you can do it in your spare time and even have some fun doing it. All you need to do is find your interests.


Benefits of Volunteering

A great way to meet people is to volunteer. Depending on what you volunteer for you could meet some fairly important people. Which can help you at your current career or finding a new job.
Think about what you are interested in. Do you like helping people, are you more for behind the scenes work? What causes catch your attention? Once you find out what you're interested in find an organization that fits your interests.

If you help out raising money for a hospital or a museum, you could be the person who goes and talks to potential donors, which is great for meeting people and getting your face known, not just to donors, but the people in charge. Or you could help out with counting the money or dealing with phones and computers which will at least let you talk to other people in the charity, expanding your network.

Working at a food bank, may not get you rubbing elbows with a manager or CEO, but you could get to know their spouse, children or friend. This could help you quite a bit in the long run if you become friends with them.

By volunteering, you're helping out something you believe in, making a difference, and helping increase your network. It’s a win-win situation.


Find Your Interest

In every city, and in a lot of towns, there are groups for almost everything. There are hobby groups, discussion groups, groups for improving yourself, such as Toastmasters, and quite a few more. They're full of people from all walks of life and they all share a common interest. So join one or two of these groups.

A philosophy group may have several teachers and professors, a bar owner, a secretary, and a couple of business men show up every Sunday to hold a discussion group (this is an actual group). A fishing group may have several managers and vice presidents alongside factory workers discussing the best lakes in the areas, and the proper lures for each one. The Toastmasters is full of people who need to improve their presenting skills and if you want to learn public speaking is a fantastic way to increase your network at the same time.

By joining these groups all you have to do is talk about something you're interested in, ask questions and provide some smart answers. Conversely you can learn the smart answers by asking questions. Do this and your social network can double or triple in size.


Take an Evening Class

This is more like work then volunteering or joining a club, but it's a way to improve yourself, meet people, and depending on the class improve your career.

What is something you would like to learn or improve? Cooking? Leadership skills? Computer skills? Bonsai? There are classes for them in virtually every city and even a lot of towns often for a very low price.
By joining one or more of these classes, you will be working around people from all walks of life. If you're very career oriented, then a business or leadership course is the best choice, although maybe not the most fun. Even in a dance class you'll be meeting people who either work in the industry that can help you or know someone who does.

Through working with them on class projects, helping them out and asking for help, you can get to know a lot of people. And if the class can be related to your job, it will help your career. If it doesn't help your career, you can at least show off your fancy cooking skills to your family, wow your date on the dance floor, and relax through meditation later.

Increasing your network isn't easy, you do have to take the first steps and be willing to talk. But it doesn't have to be incredibly hard, require smooth talking or agonizing over meeting the right people. Get out there, do something that gets you meeting people, and try to have some fun as you do something meaningful or learn something new.

  • Dan Clarke is a motivational coach, who focuses on improving careers and working from home. You can learn more about him at his website, Get Motivated, Get Happy.