5 Networking Trends to Try in 2014

Everything is going digital these days, including networking, but that doesn’t mean it’s the one and only path for upping your career game. Sometimes going a little less orthodox works in your favor because it helps you stand out. Other times, it’s more about quantity than quality in the short term just to shake things up and see what else is out there. Networking is like dating: Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting other results is madness.

In 2014, we found plenty of hot and sometimes out there networking trends to try. What’s the worst that could happen? You might not get any bites or any good connections, but at least you’ve tried something new, improved your communication skills and figured out if a particular angle works for you or not. To get started, here are some of the best networking trends to try in 2014.

1. Back to basics

Chances are there are many networking opportunities around your city, or even meet-up groups with “Networking” in the title. If you go to one of these events, you’re guaranteed to be around people who are there for the same reason as you: To meet others in the industry. Plus, many of these events have free or discounted food and beverages, so at the very least you’re saving a little cash on your happy hour shenanigans. Make sure to come armed with business cards, professional attire and some great conversation starters.

2. If you build it…

Perhaps there are no groups pertaining to your particular field of expertise. This is when forming one really pays off. It is not that difficult to join one of the meet-up websites and start organizing your own events. Not only will this help you meet like-minded people, but it will also improve your leadership skills and confidence.

3. Volunteering

Of course, that volunteering is a good idea anyways, as it gives your time to a cause that you believe in. However, have you ever really thought about the endless possibilities on the networking side of things? There are thousands of peoples at some events, allowing you to make new connections and even giving you the opportunity to talk to leads that would otherwise be impossible to reach. After all, depending on the event, people you talk can even have their guard down and be easier to converse with.

4. Attend industry events

Unlike networking events, these are events with a different purpose that you can turn into your own networking stage. For example, if you’re a freelance makeup artist then attending fashion shows can be a great way to meet potential clients. You can even volunteer your services for the show and build your brand this way. Every event is a chance for networking.

5. Practice those elevator pitches

Whether you’re literally in an elevator, in line at the grocery store or perusing a farmer’s market, there are many professionals who see every potential interaction as networking. Maybe you’re a massage therapist, graphic designer or photographer. There’s a good chance just about anyone may need your services in the future. They’ll be more inclined to reach out to someone they’ve met rather than start researching from scratch. Just don’t come across as too sale-sy, and you just might score a new client while running your errands.

Virtually any time you leave the house or you’re online is an opportunity to connect 5 Networking Trends to Try in 2014

With those in your industry or potential clients. This is why reputation management is essential and why you shouldn’t actually live in your gym clothes even when you’re running out for coffee. Real networkers are “on” 24/7 and it’s a lifestyle, not a part-time job.