Volunteering Has Double Benefits
Being part of a community means working to improve the conditions within it. Volunteering is a way to give something of yourself (which is never a bad thing) as well as connect with other like-minded professionals. If you do end up finding a business connection through this tactic, you can be sure that the person you've met has a similar sense of responsibility towards their community. Adding to your list of contacts through charitable organizations begins your business relationship on the basic principles of humanity and ethical behavior. What better demonstration of your company's ethics?
Don't Forget to Renew Your Gym Membership
Gyms are an obvious, if unconventional, place for networking opportunities. The business community tends to work out around traditional daily work schedule. Remember, though, that some people don't want to be disturbed when they're de-stressing from a hard day. The key here is to simply connect rather than "do business." Casual acquaintances can lead to more connectivity at a later date. Whatever you do, don't just approach people with the intention of getting something from them. And don't simply ignore them once you've discovered they can't "give you anything." Even if they're not in your desired community, they may be connected to someone who is, and it can be hazardous if they tell others about what tactics you're using. Be honest, upfront, and in it for the long haul. Not unlike exercising.
Three Weddings and a Memorial
This isn't as ghoulish as it sounds. Communities traditionally come together to honor, remember, and celebrate members of their own community. If nothing else, you can learn about how your industry peers talk to each other. You can learn how the memorialized or celebrated members were thought of and what impact they had and still have.
Meetup Online, then Meet Up for Real
It's difficult to get around the power of social media and online communities. Still, you can use that virtual space to your advantage. Many professionals in sales and marketing are using Meetup as an online place to conduct business, but it needn't be confined to cyberspace. Consider creating an event for other industry specialists to come together in the real world. Once you've established a line of communication with your peers, it's easy enough to create a social gathering, like a cocktail party, in order to push that cyber-relationship into a tangible handshake. Be the host and bring online contacts into your world of business.
There are almost an infinite number of locations where relationship building can happen. Being stuck in a virtual office doesn't mean you can't be social, so get out there. Whether you use the gym or a church, the main issues are the same. You are defined by what you do and where you're doing it. Traditional sales people have always known this fact: you're always networking. Even the smallest amount of contact with a random person can lead to a larger and more profitable connection.