How to Use Your Summer Days Wisely12 Jul 2023
Summer has arrived, and, if you’re like me, you’re looking forward to warmer weather, outdoor happy hours, and some well-deserved vacation downtime.
But while the seasonal slow-down may be welcome, you might also consider using your time this summer to advance a very important career goal: networking.
It turns out that summer is an ideal time to network – to expand your circle of contacts inside and outside the project management world and to deepen relationships with those you’re already connected to.
Networking just seems easier during the summer. An outdoor barbeque, a baseball game, or rooftop party makes for a more relaxed setting where people, in turn, are generally more laid back and open to connect. And conversations tend to be more informal, making it easier to establish rapport and identify areas of mutual interest, both personal and professional.
Plus, people are just more social during the summer months. In one survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of a consumer goods company, found that the average American is 31 percent more social during the summer than they are in winter. Half of survey respondents said summer was their busiest time of the year for events and catching up with colleagues and friends.
Networking is also an area where people seem to be looking for more. According to PMI’s 2023 Workplace Engagement Study, the aspect of their job that workers are least satisfied with is networking.
Young professionals are more likely than the average office worker to leave a job if they’re dissatisfied with networking opportunities (47 percent vs. 41 percent). And many young professionals – 66 percent in PMI’s recent Job Prospect Survey – say they feel they need to change jobs entirely in order to expand their networks.
So, what can you do to take advantage of summer networking opportunities:
Take a long-term perspective
Networking takes time and commitment. You should be thinking about networking as an ongoing career development activity – not just something you do when you’re looking for a new job or opportunity.
Establish networking goals
To this end, establish networking goals for yourself and a regular cadence of networking activities. For example, you might commit to attending a certain number of social or business events over the summer. Or you might aim to meet a certain number of professionals in a given field, industry, or company. And don’t forget your own organization. Company gatherings over the summer are great ways to connect with executives in different departments and functions.
Make meaningful connections
Networking is about relationships – not transactions. Take a genuine interest in the people you meet. Explore their passions and interests, as well as their career achievements and goals. That’s why summer is such a great time to connect. People are more likely to engage and share in a relaxed, informal setting. And bonding over a shared personal interest is a great stepping stone to developing a deeper professional relationship.
Look for opportunities to volunteer
Nothing creates stronger bonds than working together with others in pursuit of a common cause. PMI chapters offer many volunteer opportunities, and you can look inside your company or industry for other worthwhile ways to give back to your community. Your shared interest in the cause you support creates a natural bridge for connecting and potentially building strong ties with other like-minded individuals.
Update your online profiles and join relevant online groups
Use some of the downtime during the summer months to get your online assets in order so you’re fully prepared when activity picks up in the fall. And online networking allows you to significantly expand your reach across the country and even around the world. If opportunity knows no borders, neither should your networking.
In the midst of all this activity, don’t forget to take time for yourself. While summer is a great time to engage with others, it’s also a good time to get back in touch with yourself – to understand your purpose more deeply and to reexamine your career goals and aspirations in light of that purpose. Doing so often serves to remind us why we’re networking in the first place. And it can be a source of new energy and fresh resolve as we continue our career journey.
Oh yes, one final bit of advice for a productive summer: have fun!