By Susan Solovic

Ever wonder why some people seem to get ahead in business while you struggle? It could be a result of their after-hours activities. Seriously! What you do after work could be as important as what you do doing your work day.

Many of us believe the quality of our work will speak for itself and that should be enough. But meeting new people and trying new things may significantly enhance your business success. First, it builds relationships in a non-work related setting, and I’ve previously blogged about how critical relationships are for your business success. Secondly, it improves your creative thinking skills by broadening your horizons. Finally, it allows people to see you from a new perspective. It’s easy to get pigeon-holed in business. When people see you in a different environment, they learn more about you and your talents.

Here are a few options to consider to get out of the office and on your way to success.

Business After-Hours Networking. Most business communities have regular business after-hours networking events. Business pressures combined with personal responsibilities may deter you from participating. However, these events are an excellent way to meet with other business leaders and potential customers. So, make a point of putting at least one of these a month on your calendar. Look at it as a marketing investment to build your business.

Go Back to School. A great place to meet other successful business people is in an Executive MBA program. Of course, you’ll learn new skills to improve your business operations, but you’ll also make valuable connections that typically last for years.

Get Involved in Your Industry. Knowing what’s going on in your industry is a powerful business asset. Join your local or national industry or professional association. However, to really make the most of your membership, get involved! Volunteer for committees or run for office. Being an industry leader adds credibility to your business and provides added visibility for your brand.

Join a Fitness Club. Smart business owners understand the correlation between staying fit and healthy and their business performance. To meet like-minded business professionals, join a fitness club and get to know other members. You may gain a new customer or identify an opportunity for a strategic alliance. Plus, you’ll enhance your productivity by getting in shape.

Take a Trip. Take time off and travel somewhere fun and different. For some, that might mean a weekend camping trip. (I’ve never been camping.) For others, it might be a lengthier journey to climb Kilimanjaro. Do something out of the ordinary to shake the cobwebs out of your brain. You’ll return to your business with a fresh and creative outlet — ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead with newfound energy.

Don’t sit behind your desk fretting over your sales pipeline. Get off your duff and go do something. Your business will start thriving and you’ll be having more fun, too.

Susan Solovic, The Small Business Expert is an award-winning entrepreneur, an attorney, a New York Times best-selling author, a media personality and a highly sought-after keynote speaker.