Summer’s here and you’re probably getting ready to hit the beach or soak up some sun on a patio. Fair enough. But don’t let your networking routine go cold.

Building a strong professional network takes continuous time and effort. While there may be fewer conferences and events during the summer, there are still many great opportunities to get out (or stay in) and meet new people.

Why not make networking your summer project? While everyone else is snoozing in the sand, you’ll be more visible to industry leaders who don’t take the sunny season off.

Networking doesn’t have to be awkward. And it doesn’t take place exclusively at workshops or conferences. Rather, networking should be an opportunity to learn something new and meet interesting people with interesting stories. How will you learn and grow from seeing the same people all the time? You won’t. So enhance the diversity of your networking.

Networking doesn’t always have to take place on a face to face basis either. Participate in a #TChat or another type of Twitter chat or engage with others on Linkedin. Social networking for career success is just as important as what happens at a conference and many of the same principles can be applied online.

Networking can happen anywhere. It can be casual and spontaneous. But there is still a right way to do it. An effective networker is a breath of fresh air; They’re generous, entertaining, and informative. Be somebody that you’d want to talk to.

Here are five ways to network effectively this summer.

1. Don’t just talk about the industry.

“What did you think about [relevant culture or current events topic]?”

Stay up to date with interesting things happening in the world and important news topics. Don’t just open with statements about your knowledge of a certain industry. Ask open-ended questions and you’ll find a mutual interest and you’ll be somebody other’s want to engage with.

2. Be prepared and know your brand.

Prepare a 30-second sound-bite about yourself. This way you are listening and not thinking about what to say next. Know yourself, your goals and how you want to project so that you can get to know others.

3. Project confidence.

We all have a fear of rejection. I say reject fear. Tackle networking challenges with a smile and a firm handshake (translation: a favourite and a retweet). Your new contact will be impressed… and relieved. Awkwardness is awkward for everyone.

This same principal can be applied to Twitter or other social media channels. For example, I attended a conference a few weeks back and was concerned that because the breaks were so short, I wouldn’t have any time to meet people. But who says the introductions or networking has to take place at that conference? I was live tweeting anyways and so I started to introduce myself to others live tweeting at the conference as well.

4. Don’t be a time-suck.

Your new contact is also here to meet people (as in: more than one) – allow them to move on. The same goes for social media. If you’re participating in a twitter chat don’t turn it into a conversation between you and one other person. Respond to other people’s comments and allow everyone the opportunity to give and take from the discussion.

5. Stay in touch.

Send a follow up note within 24 hours. Subtly remind your new contact where you met and what you talked about.

Back to the twitter example I talked about in point five. There were a few people I didn’t get the chance to meet up with at the conference. Instead of letting the opportunity pass me by, I followed up via Twitter and scheduled a few coffee meetings for the upcoming weeks.

(About the Author: Rachel Scott has a diverse background in advertising and communications that includes everything from working as a Research Assistant for the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology, working in the Public Relations department for CJSF 90.1 FM, to her most recent role as Marketing Assistant at Clevers Media, a marketing and consulting agency based in Vancouver, BC.

Currently Rachel is the Marketing and Content Manager at Boost Agents. Boost Agents brings together growing, forward thinking organizations and qualified creative, marketing and communications professionals through our timely and ethical process to make the perfect cultural fit. Whether you are a candidate (job seeker) looking to boost your career and need someone to help take you to the next level, or a client looking to grow your team, we’re excited to be part of the process with you.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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photo credit: USDAgov via photopin cc

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