The past few weeks we have been talking about networking and how to define and communicate your value. Ultimately, the more you get out there and network, the more you will meet people with whom you can create profitable win-win relationships. But there is one more really important piece to this puzzle! You need to find the right networking events. Here are a few of our favorite tips for finding effective networking opportunities!
Before you get started, we strongly suggest that you narrow in on who you are trying to connect with. This will help you a lot when sifting through the events. Also, be open-minded. Sometimes, the best, most effective networking opportunities are found at unexpected events.
Search Networking Sites
Spend some time on websites literally created for events! The most popular ones are Meetup and Eventbrite. But there are other sites such as Ticketbud, and some that may be more industry specific. The beauty about these sites is that they list meetings in your local area based around various themes. Thus, making it easy to find events in your area that are effective networking opportunities!
Similar to networking sites, you can find events on social media. The most obvious being Facebook (since they have an actual events tab). But in today’s age, by simply scrolling through your feed, following relevant hashtags, and searching appropriate keywords, you can definitely find a plethora of events.
Friends and Colleagues
Ask your friends, colleagues, coworkers, and even former coworkers. Often, by simply staying in touch, you will naturally hear about networking opportunities. The best part, they may even go with you! (Wingman/women in networking is helpful!)
The Local Business Community
Connect with your local business community, chambers, and groups. Often, these organizations will have a lot of information about events and networking opportunities! If one suits you, then join. There is usually an added benefit to joining networking groups as you will increase your business presence offline.
Look for organizations in your industry that you can join. They will often host events where you can meet other professionals in your field. Additionally, join your university’s alumni association and look for relevant affinity organizations!
Influencers in Your Niche
Similar to following and searching for relevant hashtags and keywords, follow influencers in your niche, too! These are people who are the most active on social media and individuals who people listen to. They’ll often talk about events and opportunities that they’re excited about attending.
Speeches and Presentations
Although they are not specifically designed for networking, speeches and presentations can make for effective networking opportunities! Look for presentations where the people you would want to connect with are attending.
Pro Tip: Do not go into the event solely for networking! It can leave a bad taste in the mouths of the speakers, attendees, and event hosts. Thus, have some interest in the actual presentation.
Create Your Own Event
Host your own networking event! You can team up with your favorite coffee spot or cocktail bar and advertise it on social media and other online marketing channels. Include speakers, activities, and refreshments to give people something to do.
Because it takes a great deal of effort to attend networking events, you need to make each one count. After you have found a few events, make sure they are effective networking opportunitie.! Start by identifying your goal and the type of person you’d want to meet to achieve this goal. Then, for each event, research who will be there to determine if your target contact is likely to attend.
Additionally, prepare by identifying your own unique value, and have a quick go-to story that explains who you are, what you do, and the benefits of knowing you.
Lastly, have a follow up plan ready to go.