You are a member of several communities in your life. You’ve got your company, various networking groups, your place of worship, etc. Each group has it’s own purpose for being and most will have meetings and events which focus on that purpose. That’s as it should be and each of these meetings will still be a good chance for networking.
Each of your groups will also have events and activities which are more social in focus. In short, they throw parties.
Attend these events.
Parties are a great opportunity to get to know people on a personal level. At these types of gatherings, most people try to avoid “talking shop”. As a result, they tend to share more about their lives away from work — their dreams, plans, and accomplishments. People also tend to be more relaxed and are more likely to let down their guard and just talk
So, what kind of events could you attend? How about the company picnic and end of year party? If you have your own business and you are too small to have such things, maybe you could start to have them and invite your clients. If your networking groups have “after hours” events, these tend to be more social in nature. If you attend multi-day seminars or conferences, of course look for the cocktail parties (you don’t necessarily have to drink), but also be aware that the event organizers might set up an outing to a local attraction, such as a zoo, museum, or theater. You’ll already have a leg up on learning some personal interests with anyone else who attends these events.
You don’t have to hit every party that heads your way. Just as with other networking events, you do still have to make sure that it fits into your goals and your schedule. Still, be sure you add a little bit of fun to your networking mix. It makes building strong, fun connections a lot easier.