Most of us have some hobby or the other. For some it may be collecting stamps or coins or matchbox covers or rare books. For others it may something that is less tangible, it could be photography, swimming, going on treks or bird watching. How nice it would be if you could combine, what you love doing and make it into something that generates income and that becomes a source of additional revenue or at least pays for itself.
Well, it is possible for either of these activities opens up a whole new world of networking, an opportunity many may have not considered for active networking.
Hobbies can be classified into two distinct segments active hobbies and passive hobbies. The former include such activities as raising and showing dogs in competition or passive hobbies such as stamp collecting, which can be followed at home and alone.
Similarly, sports can be divided into two categories, team sports where you interact with a group, or singular sports such as jogging or weightlifting which, again, can be done at home and alone.
Diversity Is The Key
In any of the above situations your participation can vary from no networking, to casual networking to active networking. The decision is yours. Serious networkers, those who are reaching and aspiring for success should look to their hobby and sport participation as an ideal way to enlarge their networks with a new and diverse group of people.
Frequently the people in your hobby/sports network will be substantially different than those in your business, work, profession or your close friends' network. Their economic, social, financial and age differences will not necessarily match yours. But that actually works to your advantage. It provides you with a window into other lifestyles and personalities. Your networking world will certainly expand in proportion to your active involvement in either sports or hobbies.
As a tennis player, you can have a small group of friends with whom you play on a regular basis. However, they are the same friends week after week. But if want to increase your friends circle or at least the players with whom you play, you can, in addition to your weekly matches, sign up for tennis round-robins, tennis parties or just show up at the courts and let the pro match you up with someone else looking for a partner. In the first instance your networking possibilities are limited. If you follow the other examples you've opened up your potential for enlarging your network.
Even your interest in spectator sports can lead to enlarged networks. Many people who avidly follow a particular sport will join spectator groups or pep clubs that are active both during and in between the sports season.
Have you ever gone to a football tailgating party, or seen one? People seem to become one big family. It could easily be one big networking family. Non-spectator sports have their own special opportunities for expanding networks. Most have clubs or special interest groups which promote the sport and are available to those sports enthusiasts.
If you are an ardent hunter or fisher you can easily find a local hunting and fishing club. Or you may find a local chapter of a hunting or fishing conservation group. Competitions in individual sports are also readily available in varying skill levels. Reading the sports section of your local paper will give you clues to upcoming events and allow you to participate in them, giving you exposure to a newer and wider range of people.
A friend of ours is a model train enthusiast. He has many networking opportunities. He could stay at home and work on his trains and show them to friends and neighbors that might stop in. Or he could join a model train club, attend meetings, visit other collectors' homes, attend model train shows and exhibits and go to swap meets, where he would swap trains or buy them and sell his own ones. Even if no buying or selling transactions happened he would at least meet other train enthusiasts and exchange thoughts and ideas on a pastime that they all loved. Look at the variety of networking opportunities.
Dr. Karl Arbogast, of Dallas, Pennsylvania has what we believe to be an unusual hobby. His interest is in lighter-than-air craft... dirigibles or blimps. It's basically a reading and research hobby. The networking possibilities seem limited at best. But Dr. Arbogast expands his network by offering to lecture on the subject to interested groups. He makes his presentation not only interesting but also exciting with intimate stories of such famous ships as the Hindenburg. As a result of knowing of his special interest, people in his new-found net work sometimes send him clipping and articles they find about dirigibles.
The same concept might work for you. It's the "try giving your self away" technique. You always seem to get more in return than what you give.
Ray Brandt of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania combines his interest in railroading with travel. He is not only an active member of railroading groups, but he and his wife frequently use their vacation time for unusual railroading trips. They've gone on steam engine junkets, ridden the famed Orient Express and toured much of Europe with a group sponsored by a Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
Spare Time Networking
Any level of participation in hobbies and sports should provide excitement, fun, discovery, relaxation, physical or mental improvement and satisfaction, or a combination of all of these. With planning and just a little extra effort, you can add net working contacts to the list of benefits.