A year ago I started playing tennis with my mom and her crew and I realized I am surrounded by some really accomplished women.
We often force networking opportunities by joining rotary meetings and social media groups in order to get support, advice, and, well… network. But why not expand your network to your hobby groups? Men do it: it’s the classic stereotype where they gather on the golf course to conduct informal business meetings. It’s true that women can network through sport as well, so why shouldn’t we?
How can you network through your team? Forbes has a great article with 8 things to do to network the right way. The important thing is not to force anyone to help you. You want to use your hobby as a tool, not become a tool to your teammates.
Are you moving to a new town where you don’t know anyone? Find your sport. I used meetup.com to find groups for pick-up volleyball and snowboarding here in the Bay Area. Some gyms have a basketball or volleyball courts so if that’s your jam, find out when they have open sessions.
You can also find out if there are any common interests between you and your current coworkers. You might be surprised to discover what you have in common. When I worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, I went on a group ski trip to Tahoe. Being able to bond outside of work with your coworkers can also help your career because, let’s face it, getting along with your colleagues can go a long way.
This doesn’t have to be expensive – you could join a pick-up games at public basketball courts. Go for a group bike ride. Join – or organize – a local run, walk, or hike.
If you’re like me and a little socially awkward, doing an activity that allows you to focus on something else instead of trying to force an awkward conversation is really helpful in building social connections. Even if you’re not social awkward, sports and activities are just a great way to socialize outside of work with your coworkers. And the thing with sports is even if you aren’t best friends with all of your coworkers (which I hope you’re not because that would be weird) you can still have fun with them.