You have seen me write about the basics of networking, speed networking, and when networking can be too much. Those tips was more towards your profession. This one is more towards your interests.
The difference between networking your profession and your interests is in your profession, you are there for business and mingle. When you network with your interests, the room (or bar) has one thing that everyone shares: their love at something. Those shared passions and interests are icebreakers in any conversation and it helps build a commodity throughout the room. In my case, I mention that I was at a Capitals tweetup several times and and had a great time meeting Caps fans I never met and they all come different backgrounds from government, science, and public relations. I was also at a Tony Kornheiser get-together (Let me say it again…yes, it does exist) where we all have different backgrounds but we all have one thing why we are join to the hip…our like of Tony Kornheiser. In both cases, I got something out of these get-togethers for their benefit and mine.
For these type of networking (or get-together) events, stay on course of the topic of interest since you’re still developing a relationship in real-time. Then, when you feel comfortable, ask for help. Unlike networking events where you’re searching for something, these get-togethers are a real community that is willing to help on your situations and issues because you have something in common that both sides are passionate about.
So, if you’re a Trekkie, join a Star Trek group. If you’re a fan of Gossip Girl, join the group. You enjoy kittens and bacon at the same time, join a group that people like kittens AND bacon, not either/or. If you’re a parent who has a tween or teenage daughter who likes Jonas Brothers but you cannot stand them, join that group. If you can’t find a group, create one and promote it to everyone. These groups can be find either local, regional, national, or virtual.
If you’re shy of doing networking, that’s fine, but don’t hold yourself back too much. Look into Facebook and Linkedin groups and the people you follow on Twitter and find common ground. Start warming up and when you feel you’re ready, join or setup a get-together. Utilize the people that share your interests and be open to them as they are more helpful than your peers at your profession because these people will always have your back. That’s why communities are there for a reason.