Chances are you’re dying to get in front of that person who could change your life with one meeting, who you know you could collaborate on something great with, or whose brain you’d love to pick. Cities are small places among young professional circles, but sometimes meeting that person, or the right people in general, requires a little strategy. We young professionals are so acclimatized to going out to clubs and bars to network that we sometimes don’t think of the alternatives to the typical supper clubs, hot spots and industry-specific establishments. Here are some guidelines to getting in front of that key person.
Mutual friends and acquaintances:
As channels like Facebook and LinkedIn have demonstrated, many influential people within the city are really only a few degrees of separation away. If your endeavor is not entirely self-serving and you do in fact think that you have something to offer the other person, communicate that desire to your mutual friends or acquaintances. Other YPs know the importance of networking, expanding circles and connecting people, and you may be able to repay the favour with someone you know.
Tennis and golf clubs:
A great way to meet people is through athletic clubs. Sports games provide a more level playing field than other situations and reputations are left at the door. Don’t join a club if you are generally not interested in the sport, however. There’s nothing worse or more contrived than joining a gym, club or team if you have ulterior motives, and other members can smell that from miles away. By the same token, be strategic when bringing up anything work-related. Sometimes a tennis match or golf game is a way for some to escape the hectic work world.
Running groups and marathon clubs:
Running clubs are all over cities. They provide a good way for the multi-tasking young professional to do two things at once: getting in that much-needed workout and networking with others at the same time. Dedication to a running club, bicycling club or sports team reveals a great deal about your character, demonstrating dedication, personal growth and that you get along well with others.
Every city’s charity events bring out the movers and the shakers, providing a civilized forum for interaction. Most charity events in cities across the county are composed of a VIP dinner portion, in addition to the later party portion. Although the ticket price may range upwards of $300 per ticket (usually higher) it can be a worthwhile investment if it could result in a meeting that could have major significance on your life while supporting a cause in the process. Many young professionals can also see this as an opportunity to treat key clients by purchasing a table. By the later portion of the evening, things become louder, more crowded and a little rowdier – not necessarily facilitators of meaningful interaction.
If you are 100 per cent sure that you have the time and skills for it, join a charity committee that you know your person (or people) of influence sits on. We are not, of course, suggesting that you jump behind a charity for selfish reasons or to increase your social profile. Odds are you may support the same cause or wish to get behind the cause that like-minded YPs also back.
Whether your person of influence is a speaker at a conference or you know he or she will be in attendance, conferences are a sure bet to getting closer to that person. Conferences also breed a certain type of mentality, whereby participants are actively turned “on” and are focused on business, mixing and mingling, and are open to meeting new people. In a conference-type setting, a person of influence will be more receptive to you introducing yourself than at a busy restaurant.
Kids teams provide a good way to bond not only over your children, but other things as well as you cheer them on from the sidelines. If your kids become friends, even better. Play dates can also double as coffee dates among like-minded parents.
Engage and interact through social media channels. Although it may be odd to Facebook “friend” a person of influence if you have never met them in person, there is nothing wrong with being active with groups and pages that they are affiliated with, engaging conversation by commenting on blog posts, or striking up a conversation on Twitter.