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December 14, 2017

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Hobbies Help Expand Your Network

My friend works at Georgia Tech, and one of her tasks is keeping parents occupied while their kids attend new student orientation. She told me how a parent asked for ideas on what to get his son as a birthday gift. My friend advised golf lessons.

"My son doesnít play golf," the man said.

"He should," my friend replied. "The golf course is where all these big business deals are made."

Parents reached for their pens to scribble down those words of wisdom. It got me thinking how important hobbies are as a networking tool. Itís true friendships are made and deals are struck on the golf course. Business cards are exchanged, and the hands of important people are shaken.

But you donít have to play golf to take advantage of the networking edge a hobby provides. Knitting has become a craft thatís not only practiced at home but also in knitting shops and at knitting retreats. Women, and a few men, from all walks are discovering the simple pleasure of making fabric out of sticks and string.

Cooking classes are booming. All those people who renovated their kitchens when economic times were better now need to learn how to use them. As classmates chat about their love of cilantro, their occupations are likely to come up. It would be crass to push too hard, but itís certainly acceptable to swap business cards.

Running is another hobby that lends itself well to networking. Join a running group and youíll all be working toward a similar goal of running a first marathon or improving your time. While you trade tips on preventing knee injuries, you can also mention youíre in the market for a job in a particular field.

People who take time to cultivate passions outside the workplace tend to be, in my experience, nice people. They tend to be people who want to reach out to others and who appreciate the value of networking.

Having a hobby makes you happier and healthier, studies show. Having a hobby can also put you in the right place to make just the connection you need to lead you to your next job.

- Patti Ghezzi

Patti Ghezzi is a veteran journalist with 15 years experience covering everything from education to the environment to business. While on staff at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she founded the blog Get Schooled. She now writes about business for publications such as Atlanta Woman and Georgia Trend as well as the Web site DivineCaroline. When not working, she chases after her toddler, watches Yankee games with her husband and tries to figure out how to live green without giving up her beloved Diet Coke. You can email her at pattighezzipr@searchlogixgroup.com.

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