My friend works really long hours an attorney. She often tells me she has little free to date but wishes she could meet someone. While asking to bolt early to go to happy hour might be frowned on, her firm encourages her to sit on boards, join professional organizations and network for business.
The solution, of course, is to multitask. Why not network for business and love at the same time?
The great part of networking for business and love at the same time is that doing so removes the pressure of forcing a love connection. At business networking events, people are there to meet people and there's not that judgmental vibe or desperation that one might find at a singles event.
You might think that most people meet dates online but that's not true. Although 1 in 10 Americans now use online dating platforms, the vast majority of relationships still begin offline, according to Pew Research Center.
Fort Lauderdale publicist Kerry Phillips, a widow for four years, told me she wants to date again. She says going to a networking cocktail party to drum up business feels less stressful than going to a singles event: “I’m not going in thinking I’m there to find a date or a life partner. The pressure is not there. I’m going in to build business, and if I hit it off with someone, that’s a bonus.”
* People looking to combine business and love should ask more personal questions when they meet someone of interest. It could be something like, “What do you enjoy doing outside of work?”
* Call the chamber or business organization and ask about the age and type of people who attend their events: “If you tell me you want to meet mid-level professionals in their 30s to 40s, I would tell you which events draw that crowd.”
Dan Silverman, founder of MatchmakingMiami.com, offers these tips.
* Start the flirtation and see whether you get feedback. If you do and it’s positive, then take it forward. If you’re not getting feedback, then shift gears and keep it business.
* Steer clear of making anyone feel uncomfortable at a business function. (Watch out how much alcohol you drink!) But if you sense someone is interested, arrange a follow-up after the event.
* Hand someone of interest your business card and urge them to call. You can decide later what direction to take the connection.
Hope Plevy, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, met a man at a legal organization networking dinner who asked her out for dinner. After a few dates, the two didn’t see a romantic future, but they did start referring each other’s business.
If you find yourself alone this Valentine's Day, brainstorm what networking events you want to go to or business organizations you want to join. If you don't find love, at least you might drum up a new client.