You know the saying — it’s not what you know but who you know. Creating and maintaining connections can have a huge impact on your professional success. More than 80% of people say networking is essential to their career success, and around 41% say they want to network more often.

While LinkedIn is great for networking — marketers say 80% of their leads come from the site — there are many places you can expand your web of connections. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share a post from the Atlanta Small Business Network blog that highlights some unique places to network and make connections.

1. Coffee shop. Your morning latte could lead to a fruitful business relationship. The ASBN post notes that because coffee shops attract all kinds of people from many different industries, you could expand your network in new areas. Try striking up a conversation with someone. If the dialogue continues, have your business card handy so the other person has your contact info.

2. Conferences and conventions. Events like The PPAI Expo provide prime networking opportunities. You can mingle and learn from others in the promotional products industry and build stronger connections with those you know. Just remember to reach out to people after an event so they remember your conversation.

3. Social media sites. There are dozens of social media sites to choose from, and it is good to sign up and frequently post on multiple social media websites at once, the post recommends. This can grow your potential customer base.

4. Job fairs. Even if you’re not seeking a job or recruiting talent, the ASBN post recommends attending job fairs. Why? Because you can get to know both attendees and the companies that are hiring for different industries. You never know how new connections can benefit your career or when you may be able to create a joint venture with different organizations.

5. Alumni events. If your college or university hosts alumni events, take advantage of the opportunity to network with fellow graduates. The connection to your school makes it easier to interact since you already have a common interest.

6. Volunteer opportunities. Are you active with any local charities? Every time you attend a volunteer event, you have an opportunity to gain recognition for your business.

Some of the best networking may happen in unusual places. The next time you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop or volunteering in your community, try stepping out of your comfort zone and introducing yourself. You never know who you might be rubbing elbows with and what that connection could mean for your career.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: The Atlanta Small Business Network. ASBN is a source of business news, information, best practices and event coverage.