Nontraditional Networking

We’ve all been taught that networking is crucial for a number of reasons. Networking can lead to jobs and internships, business opportunities and friendships. I have really fallen in love with networking over the past year, especially since I joined Delta Sigma Pi, the professional business fraternity at my university. I have come to realize that the best way to network is to simply ALWAYS be networking.

This means networking at work, at lunch, on campus, in class, when doing errands and even when you’re at a bar or club. If you are an outgoing person, you are most likely already networking anyways. But it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself, especially if you’re not so outgoing, of the power of networking and how you should be networking with everyone you talk to.

Today I’m going to talk about a couple nontraditional networking ideas:

Conference Crashing

I learned about conference crashing from entrepreneur Andy Drish, ironically, at a leadership conference in California. I haven’t been to many conferences in my lifetime, mostly because I haven’t lived in the right places (Anchorage, Alaska and Reno). If I lived somewhere else, however, I would take advantage of Andy’s genius strategy:

If there’s a conference, speaker or summit that you would like to attend but don’t have the money, use your status as a student to your advantage. Find out who’s setting up the conference and get into contact with them. Tell them you’re a broke college student but would really like to attend the conference, and you are willing to volunteer your time to help out with anything if you can attend or watch some or all of the speakers.

Andy said him and his friends have done this a couple of times. One time, they were assigned volunteer work backstage at a leadership conference, helping to get the speakers and sound equipment ready. They got about 20 minutes of one-on-one backstage time with each speaker before they presented! The speakers were willing to talk to them and they asked questions that no one else at the conference could ask! No doubt, the speakers remembered Andy and I’m sure Andy followed up and turned the speakers into valuable contacts. Now that’s how you network!

Switch Roles

This morning, a friend and I did some more nontraditional networking. We decided to “crash” an event put on by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN). This event was titled “Connecting Northern Nevada’s Companies to Its Largest Skilled Workforce Pool,” and was for businesses to learn about better ways to hire interns and graduates. We were the only students there, but not only did we get to attend the event at the discounted member rate, we also met a bunch of employers that we turned into contacts. There were representatives from all the universities in Northern Nevada as well as local business owners and HR reps. I gave my resume out and traded business cards with numerous professionals that should be able to help me get a job or internship in the near future. We were also invited to an exclusive networking event for the real estate industry at a club downtown, just because we were students! It was actually pretty fun and I don’t think the contacts we met today will forget us anytime soon.

Have any other nontraditional networking ideas, comments or questions? Please share them below!

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