people networkingMost college grads understand the value of using social media to cultivate great career connections. That’s why sites like LinkedIn have exploded in recent years. But there’s another approach, a classic way to meet people and build great professional networks. I call it “retro-networking.”

Retro-networking is about creating new and interesting professional connections with people face-to-face. Because retro-networking doesn’t get as much buzz as social networking does, it feels fresh and new to people–and is surprisingly effective.

Here are seven ways to do it.

Be A Do-Gooder.

Find a nonprofit you’re interested in that attracts movers and shakers in the business world. Examples are art and history museums, botanical gardens, historical societies, and land conservancies. Become active on a core committee, such as fund-raising or the events-planning committee. People will notice your good deeds and your talents, which could ultimately lead to new client and customer referrals. You’ll also have a chance to hone some new skills and get to some great parties.

Use Travel As An Opportunity.

Traveling can be a great business networking opportunity. Sign up for an airline club membership, and then strike up a conversation in the airport club lounge with someone who looks bored. Before leaving home, consider booking a golf game at your destination with fellow business travelers using an online golf booking site. You can also let colleagues know via your social network that you’ll be in their city and available for an in-person meeting in the airport lounge.

Make Friends With A “Connector.”

At your next party or other gathering, locate the “connector”–that’s the man or woman who’s confident, charismatic, and surrounded by people jostling for his or her attention. A connector usually knows everyone’s name and is a master at winning friends. Although connectors may seem unapproachable, they actually live for (and love) networking. Find a way to introduce yourself to the connector and you’ll gain access to a whole new community. It’s like establishing “instant roots” without having a family tree in place first–or even a membership at the club.

Keep The School Spirit.

Your fellow alumni are ideal networking candidates. You are already connected and have a shared loyalty and history. Contact your high school, college, or business school and sign up for the alumni newsletter. It will list alumni events in your area that you can and should attend. Don’t forget to take your business cards and have a 15-second elevator speech prepared that quickly portrays, in a memorable way, who you are and what you do.

Find A Hobby Group To Join.

People who have hobbies are fun to talk to. Also, some of the best opportunities to form professional relationships occur when you’re not at the office. Find an activity that involves other people. Some examples are bridge, mahjong, chess, Scrabble, or even collecting. If there isn’t a group in your community, you can start one by posting your interest on Craigslist. Meetup, Facebook, and LinkedIn all provide ways to start groups as well.

Eat Out With Others.

Don’t eat at home alone. Use meals as an opportunity to get to know a professional colleague. Everybody has to eat, so why waste a great networking opportunity? Invite colleagues to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’ll appreciate the personal time and attention you’re giving them, and they’ll likely return the favor by inviting you the next time. Great things happen over food. Pass the contacts, please.

See Who’s Following You.

On LinkedIn, if you have your name appear as “Anonymous” when you view other people’s profiles, you can’t tell who’s reading your profile. That’s a lost opportunity. Instead, set your profile so that your name will show up when you look people up. This will allow others to see when you have read their profiles, and also lets you see who’s looked YOU up. If someone keeps checking you out, view it as a professional compliment–and get in touch with him. This gesture can generate a new professional contact, which also sometimes leads to new business.

If you’re a job hunter, read more about how retro-networking can help you make a good first impression here.