7 ways to network in the summertime (may require sunscreen)

Take the summer months to do some of the year's most enjoyable networking. The pros at Shepa Learning tell you how

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Do networking opportunities feel like they are on hold during the summer? Do you find that trying to organize a meeting seems nearly impossible as vacation schedules clash? The solution? Relax?and we do mean relax. Take the summer months to do some of the year’s most enjoyable networking. There is a short window to enjoy the sun so here are some cool ideas that may require sunscreen.

1. Get a tool belt

Do you want to do more on your vacation than line up at the Louvre or drag out the camping gear? Why not consider a volunteer vacation, even one close to home? Websites such as Volunteer Canada or Go Volunteering can help you find opportunities. For example, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity on a build at home or abroad project. Or get your team out of the office and onto a Habitat for Humanity building site for a Habitat Build Day. Proudly sport that new farmer tan.

Sunscreen Factor: 80

2. Do the “Google Walk”

At a luncheon we attended about 10 years ago, Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, shared this story. Every Thursday at a random time, an email* goes out that simply says, “Google Walk!” Anyone can join. They meet at a designated spot, and then this group from different parts of the company goes for a walk. It’s an exercise in relaxed bonding and sharing of ideas. We don’t know if Google still does this, but regardless, it’s a great idea for your office or team. (*If they still do the Google Walk, we are pretty sure they don’t use email, they send a Slack message.)

Sunscreen factor: 30

3. Add more people to your golf

While this tip may sound like a no-brainer?hitting the golf course to do more networking with friends or business associates?don’t forget that this is a season for charity golf tournaments. It’s a great way to connect with a much larger group of people. The post-game reception and dinner are where some very good networking can happen. Always have business cards in your golf bag and pocket. Do an online search for “charity golf tournaments” and you’ll be surprised at the number of events in your area.

Sunscreen factor: 50 and a hat

4. Wedding bells and barbecues

It’s the season of backyard barbecues and if the temptation, as the host hands you a cool Hefeweizen, is to make a beeline to your friends, change your course. Seek out a few people you don’t know, then introduce those people to your friends. Congratulations, you are now a connector! Networking at weddings can be more challenging. They are kind of segregated affairs starting at the church with the bride’s friends sitting on one side of the church and the groom’s on the other. Tables are organized so groups of friends and family can sit together (nothing wrong with that), but make an effort to go over to other tables and introduce yourself to new people. Here’s an easy question to start the conversation, “How do you know the couple?”

Sunscreen factor: 30

5. Hot town, summer in the city

Your city or town will have all kinds of summer events. Consider having your company be one of the sponsors of a festival, a musical event, a picnic in the park or a t-ball tournament. Often there is an opportunity to sponsor in kind with a donation or provide those little leaguers with shirts. It’s a great way to raise your profile and show your corporate citizenship. If you can’t find an opportunity this summer, use the time to go to these different events, choose the one you like and get involved next year. Or perhaps you’d like to be a volunteer at one of these events.

Sunscreen factor: 80

6. Find your own place in the sunset

Summer flies by, and pretty soon it is mid-August and those promised after-work drinks haven’t happened. Decide now on your go-to patio and your day of the week and let others know: “On Thursdays after work join us at (you choose the patio).” It’s always helpful to have a core group of people who buy into this idea. Tweet it, Slack message it, put it on your Facebook page and walk over to someone’s desk and invite them to join you. Then, to keep the energy going, post photos from the event on Instagram or Snapchat. The best way to build your network is to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, so be generous with your invitations.

Sunscreen factor: 35

7. Exercise your networking

Take tennis lessons, go on a bike trip with an organized group, join a hiking club or learn to row. Google is your friend to find places to do these activities. If you don’t believe us, just go to meetup.com and you’ll find that there is an organized group for almost everything. While it’s sometimes awkward to invite someone out for a “just you and me” drink or lunch, if you know what they’re interested in, you can invite them to join your group. “I know you are a runner and we are forming a group for early morning runs through Stanley Park—want to join us?”

Sunscreen factor: depends on the activity


Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, principals of Shepa Learning Company, are business networking speakers and authors of Work the Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life (Penguin/Prentice Hall)