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4 Fresh Networking Ideas You Haven't Tried Yet

October 16 2015

talk colorful bubbles 2Are your old networking activities not engaging you like they used to? It may be time for a change of pace. Or maybe you already volunteervolunteer or belong to the local chamber of commerce and are just looking to add something new to your networking repertoire.

Regardless of your reason, we've rounded up four alternative networking ideas to try. Some may be a little off the beaten path of what you're used to--but that's good for those who need to be shaken out of a networking rut!

Remember, the key to networking success is being genuinely interested in what you're doing. If you're feeling dissatisfied with your current options, that may be a sign your interest is waning. Don't worry--one of the following 4 networking ideas just may reinvigorate you! Try the ones that resonate with your personal interests:

Makerspaces

builderNever heard of a makerspace before? You're probably in the majority. Also known as hackerspaces, these workspaces offer community members access to a wide variety of tools like CNC routers, laser cutters, sewing machines, laminators, computers, woodworking tools, metalworking tools, and more. It's a place for people who like to create things, and who want to learn from and collaborate with other "makers."

If you're the crafty type or someone who likes to build things, makerspaces are a great option. Here you'll find the type of homeowner who prefers to build their own dining room table rather than buy it!

For a better idea of what makerspaces are like, here's an example of a makerspace in our hometown. To find one in your area, try this makerspace directorymakerspace directory or this map of hackerspaces.

Wineries

young people mealRE Technology is located right in the heart of wine country (Sideways was filmed here!), so while we're biased, we also know first-hand what a great networking opportunity wineries present. And good news--you don't have to be located in coastal California to take advantage of it! Wineries are becoming ubiquitous across all regions of the country.

Here's the secret: Ask a local winery if they have a wine club. If so, join it. The perks go far beyond wine discounts. Most wine clubs let members bring anywhere from two to six guests for free wine tastings. This is a great tool for wooing clients! Also look for special members-only events, like winemaker's dinners. These are fantastic networking events--and the social lubrication is already included! If you serve an urban area, look for wine bars or tasting rooms in your area instead. Many of these offer wine clubs with similar perks and networking opportunities.

Meetup.com

helping hand 1Meetup.comMeetup.com is an online place to find offline activities in your area. The site lets you find events, meetings, clubs, and more according to your interests. Like hiking? Check Meetup.com--there's probably a hiking club in your area, as well as "mommy" groups, political discussion groups, vegetarian potlucks, and all manner of groups for different professions.

If you want to keep it real-estate minded, look for real estate investor groups. If you do attend a meeting, go with providing advice and expertise in mind, not promoting yourself. The point is to build long-term relationships! Do that, and the referrals will come naturally.

Co-working spaces

coworkers laughingWant to network while you're working? If you're looking for an alternative to your home or broker's office, try a co-working space. These shared working environments bring together freelancers, independent contractors, and small teams or businesses who don't have offices of their own. Members of co-working spaces gain access to typical office amenities like conference rooms, internet, copy machines, and more--as well as a sense of community and opportunities for collaboration.

Some co-working spaces (like our local spaceour local space) offer incubator and accelerator programs that nurture budding companies. This can be valuable to commercial agents, as eventually some of those companies may grow and require an office of their own. Build key relationships now to be top-of-mind when that happens.

Your turn: what are your favorite alternative networking ideas? Let us know in the comments below.