We all know that in order to grow, you need to be constantly adding to your network. But chances are, even if you’re really focused on meeting new people, you’re overlooking some great opportunities to branch out and build connections with whole new circles within your community.
Summer is a great time to break your routine and meet new people, because so many of us are responding to a natural change in routine. Summer vacation, summer school, special activities, clubs, camps, and more -- it’s a season of disruption and gives you so many opportunities you may have never thought of in the past.
Ready to start building? Here are 10 places we bet you might have overlooked that are full of people ready to learn about your business!
Your Local Community College
Community Colleges are treasure troves of activities, events, and opportunities to meet new people. Whether you sign up for a summer enrichment class or attend a one-day conference about a topic you’re interested in, you’ll cross paths with a wide variety of people at your local community college. And don’t let the word “college” scare you -- many community colleges offer fun classes and programs for hobby-driven adults, such as photography, yoga, and cooking. Be sure you’re exploring the seasonal offerings or sign up for a community college event!
A Hiking/Cycling/Running/Outdoor Activity Club
Many communities have clubs that meet up for group outings on local trails or to train for running races. Most of these groups are friendly to all levels of active individuals, so don’t let a perceived lack of experience or fitness level discourage you. Look on Facebook, google clubs in your area, or drop by a local outdoor or sports store to look at posted flyers and gather information about group meetups.
Bootcamp or Specialty Fitness Class
Similar to the previous suggestion, but a bit more focused, many gyms offer summer bootcamp sessions - a set duration, a weekly or periodic class time, and the chance to meet up with the same group of people over a period of time to work toward some big goals. You’ll all be working hard side by side, and it’s a great opening to talk about how you’re finding time to get fit alongside your flexible business model!
A Museum or Art Gallery
Museums, art galleries, and cultural hot spots in your community offer more than a treat for the creative mind - they’re often eager for volunteers, and they host events, parties, or seminars that attract a broad range of attendees. Sign up for the email list of your local cultural institutions and make sure you attend an event that otherwise might not appeal to you - you’ll be nearly guaranteed to meet a new assortment of people in your community.
Your Local Winery/Brewery
By this point, it’s become almost required for local breweries or wineries to host trivia nights, live music, and other parties and events. Some of them even partner with yoga studios, artists, or local food trucks to create a monthly or weekly gathering. Bonus tip: a lot of these venues are also great for hosting your own business events -- so stay in the loop on what’s happening, and swing by regularly to get to know a new crowd and maybe even set up your own event.
An Independent Bookstore
Bookstores mean Book Clubs, Author Events, Kids Readings Circles, Language Practice Meetups, and more. We’re suggesting an independent bookstore here because it’s a great way to connect more deeply with your community, but if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your community, don’t overlook the chain bookstores. Attend a book launch or join a book club, and you’ll have a great introduction to a different demographic in your area.
A Non-Profit or Volunteer Group
What’s your passion? Education, displaced & homeless persons, environmental causes, hunger? The list goes on -- and no doubt there’s a cause in your town that could use two extra hands and a little extra enthusiasm. By joining a community volunteer group or donating your time and talent to a non-profit, you’ll cross paths with people who already share something with you -- their own passion for that cause and for making a difference. It’s a great conversation starter, and an opportunity to do something good for your home, business or no business!
The Farmer’s Market
If you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market in your community, make it a part of your routine to drop by on market day. You can buy healthy, fresh, local produce and other great goods, all while connecting with entrepreneurial types who might just be looking for what you’re selling. It’s a win-win! Come prepared with business cards, so you can follow up easily with anyone you connect with at the market.
Professional or Community Events
Many community and professional events are actually open to the public. Local Chambers of Commerce, community development organizations, political fundraisers, and more events of this type allow interested people to attend and hear about what’s happening in their town or city. By attending, you’re not only educating yourself, you’ll make valuable connections with people who might end up on your Dream Team or open up opportunities to expand your business in new directions.
Public Speaking Groups
Speaking groups like Toastmasters were formed to help people learn to speak more comfortably in front of a crowd -- but they’re also great venues for meeting new people, polishing your own business presentation, and connecting with others interested in self-improvement and perhaps entrepreneurship. Find out about groups in your community and drop by to try out a meeting and see whether it might be a good fit for you!
If you choose even one of these groups to start making new connections, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your network can grow.
What is your favorite overlooked spot to connect with new people? Share your suggestions with your TRAKstar community!