If you’re looking to build your network, there’s no better way to do it than attending networking events.
In addition to connecting you with other professionals, networking events also help you to stay on top of the latest business trends and innovations.
With so many different types of networking events to choose from, however, you may not be sure what type of event you should attend.
Well, we’ve got you covered - in this article, you’ll find all you need to know about networking events, including:
- 12 Types of Networking Events Worth Checking Out
- How to Pick the Right Networking Event for You
- 4 Best Ways to Find Networking Events Near You
- 6 Tips for Getting the Most Out Of Your First Networking Event
12 Types of Networking Events Worth Checking Out
Without further ado, here are the 12 types of networking events you don’t want to miss:
#1. Industry-Specific Networking Events
Industry-specific networking events are excellent for both making relevant connections and expanding your knowledge about your industry.
Typically, industry-specific networking events include seminars where industry experts share their knowledge and industry-related news.
For example, if you work in accounting, you might learn about the latest changes in accounting standards and regulations, new accounting software, and other useful information.
On top of helping you stay informed about everything industry-related, such networking events are also great for meeting peers and finding new career opportunities in your field.
#2. Happy Hour Networking Events
If you like to keep things casual, happy hour networking events might be right up your alley.
Happy hour networking events tend to be less expensive and organized than other types of networking events. Essentially, you have the freedom to mingle with other professionals on your own terms and leave whenever you please.
Because happy hour networking events are relaxed and informal, you may also find it much easier to approach new people during such events.
For this reason, happy hour networking events are especially great for meeting other professionals in your local community. They’re also extremely useful if you’re looking to make a career change and want to learn more about a particular career without any strings attached.
That said, if you’re on a job hunt, you may have more luck with other types of networking events, as happy hour networking events can leave a wrong impression on potential employers (e.g. some potential employers may perceive you as unreliable and unprofessional, especially if you don’t handle alcohol well).
#3. Career Fairs
Simply put, career fairs connect job seekers with companies looking to fill their job openings.
As such, career fairs are excellent networking events for anyone looking for a job. Many universities and colleges also organize career fairs, making them an ideal option for students and recent graduates.
Here’s how to make the most out of a career fair:
- Write a resume and bring multiple copies to potential employers.
- Prepare an elevator pitch that summarizes your professional (or academic) background in 2-3 sentences.
- Be ready to ask questions about the company and available positions.
#4. Roundtable Discussions
If you thrive on debates and exchanging ideas, roundtable discussions may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Typically, roundtable discussions take place in smaller groups so that each person can participate in the discussion.
More often than not, roundtable discussions address topics surrounding a specific industry. For this reason, they’re great if you’re looking to share your ideas, deepen your industry knowledge, hear different perspectives, as well as get feedback and advice.
#5. Professional Conferences
Usually, professional conferences are multi-day networking events that connect thousands of people working in the same industry.
Conferences offer a variety of events and activities you can participate in, such as keynote speeches, expo halls, seminars, and more. This gives you an opportunity to learn the latest industry trends while all while building new professional connections.
One thing you should keep in mind is that, typically, conferences are the most expensive type of networking event. If you’re looking to lower your expenses, here’s what you can do:
- See if your company can cover the costs
- Volunteer at a conference
- Attend a smaller conference (e.g. a local instead of an international one)
- Participate in just one day of the conference instead of the full event
- Opt for an online conference
#6. Speed Networking Events
Looking to connect with dozens of people in the blink of an eye? You might want to give speed networking a go.
Put simply, speed networking events allow you to talk to other professionals for a specific period of time, such as 10 minutes. During this time, you should introduce yourself, ask questions, and share your contact information with any valuable contacts you make. Once the time is up, you’ll move on to talk to another person.
Since you only have a limited time to make a lasting impression, it’s important to prepare for speed networking events in advance. Ideally, you want to perfect your 30-second elevator pitch and bring business cards to quickly exchange contacts with other professionals.
If you value efficiency, you’ll definitely enjoy workshops. These networking events allow you to kill two birds with one stone - develop your skills and build new connections.
In most cases, workshops include interactive activities that will help you build your skills.
For example, in a programming workshop, you can improve your coding skills with the help of another professional. A workshop focused on communication skills, on the other hand, may include active listening or body language exercises.
Not to mention, workshops help you naturally meet people through group activities. As such, they are the ideal type of networking event for people that don’t feel comfortable coming up to strangers and introducing themselves.
#8. Alumni Networking Events
If the idea of attending a networking event with a bunch of strangers makes you feel uncomfortable, alumni networking events may be the ideal option for you.
Alumni networking events are informal, typically non-career events that allow you to reconnect with college peers and build new connections over common activities, such as attending art exhibitions and sports events.
Although alumni networking events aren’t formal, it’s very likely you’ll be expected to talk about your career. In turn, this can result in new career opportunities, business partnerships, referrals, and exchanged professional advice.
#9. Work Breakfasts
If you’re an early riser looking to meet local professionals, make the most out of your morning by attending a working breakfast.
Such networking events typically take place before work, allowing you to connect with other people before they get busy with their day.
While they aren’t as laid back as happy hour networking events, work breakfasts are a bit less formal than most other networking events. Besides discussing business topics over a cup of coffee and a light meal, work breakfasts can also feature seminars.
Webinars are live online conferences that you can join from your laptop, computer, or mobile device.
Unlike in-person conferences, you can join a webinar from anywhere in the world as long as you have a stable Internet connection. For this reason, these networking events are ideal for people that want to attend national or international events at a lower price.
Aside from asking questions and participating in discussions, webinars also offer multiple networking opportunities. Depending on the event hosting platform, webinars can include:
- Virtual expositions where you can showcase your products, and services, and build brand awareness.
- Private chats, allow you to build personal connections with other participants.
- A social lounge where webinar participants can hold discussions in smaller groups.
- Virtual business cards to help you quickly and easily exchange contacts.
- Speed networking allows you to rapidly meet people by engaging in one-on-one chats with other participants for a limited time.
#11. Trade Fairs
Trade fairs are typically large-scale networking events that take place in expo halls, where each company sets up its own booth to showcase its latest products and services.
Simply put, trade fairs give people a chance to discover new products, get more information about them from company representatives, and find business opportunities.
As such, trade fairs are the perfect networking events for:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Building meaningful connections
- Promoting your products and services
- Learning about the latest industry trends and innovations
- Finding investors and other business opportunities
#12. Chamber of Commerce Events
If you’re looking to make strong connections with local professionals, try attending chamber of commerce events.
From fundraising to workshops, chamber of commerce events can differ in format. No matter the type of event, chamber of commerce events can help you find tons of career and business opportunities by connecting you with prospective clients, employers, business partners, and more.
More likely than not, you’ll see the same faces in the majority of your local chamber of commerce events. For this reason, regularly attending such networking events allows you to build long-lasting business connections.
Not to mention, chamber of commerce events give you a chance to promote your business. If that’s what you’re after, consider holding a workshop or delivering a presentation. This way, you can save time and reach more people by engaging with a larger audience at once instead of having multiple one-on-one conversations.
What Are Networking Events?
Networking events are social gatherings that are specifically organized to help people build valuable connections to advance their careers.
There are 3 formats of networking events:
- In-person. Despite the global rise of technology, 80% of event planners still organize in-person networking events. Such networking events allow you to effectively make new connections, improve your skills, and strengthen your existing professional connections.
- Online. Virtual networking events are especially useful if you’re looking to make international connections. Not to mention, attending an online networking event is significantly more cost-effective than traveling to a networking event abroad.
- In-person and online. Also known as hybrid networking events, such events combine both formats of networking events. For example, an in-person event can be broadcasted live to online participants. Alternatively, multi-day events can include some days of in-person networking and other days of online conferences and webinars.
How to Pick the Right Networking Event for You
With so many choices out there, you may not be exactly sure how to choose the right networking event for you.
So, here are 4 tried and tested tips that will help you make the right decision when picking a networking event:
- Evaluate your objectives. Choosing a networking event that aligns with your career objectives is key to picking the right networking event. For example, if you run a local business and aim to attract more customers or investors, you might benefit more from a local happy hour networking meetup than an international networking conference.
- Define your target audience. To meet the right people, you first need to define who’s your target audience. If your mind is set on landing a job in a particular company, for example, make sure to research if the company is organizing or attending any networking events nearby.
- Consider your personality and preferences. The right networking event will allow you to shine, so it’s important to pick networking events that make you feel comfortable and match your preferences. For example, if you’re introverted, you may find roundtable discussions stressful and benefit more from attending workshops and webinars.
- Choose events that help you grow. Research the hosts, topics, and speakers of all the networking events you’re planning to attend. If you have more field expertise than the majority of the speakers, for example, you may want to consider becoming a speaker yourself or attending a different networking event.
4 Best Ways to Find Networking Events Near You
Looking for networking events in your area?
Here are the 4 best ways to find networking events around you:
#1. Ask Around
New opportunities are among the major benefits of networking. As such, it’s always a good idea to ask your existing network if they know of any networking events near you.
Chances are, you already have some people around you that attend or organize networking events. Even if they don’t know of any upcoming networking events, it’s very likely that they’ll contact you as soon as they hear of something that might interest you.
So, consider reaching out to:
- Your current and former colleagues
- Your boss
- Your HR department
- Your friends and family that work in the same industry as you, or in an industry that interests you
Alternatively, you can also contact or visit your local chamber of commerce to see if they’ll be hosting any networking events soon.
#2. Take Advantage of Your Local Calendar
Most cities have an online calendar where you can find all upcoming events. As such, you might want to check your local calendar for any networking events happening around you.
If you live in a smaller city, however, it may be difficult to come across events specifically aimed at networking.
If that’s the case, think outside the box and find ways to get involved with your community. For example, you might make valuable connections in church events, book clubs, or yoga classes.
#4. Check Your Inbox
More likely than not, you don’t have to look far to find networking events - sometimes, all you need is to check your email inbox.
You may already have gotten advertisements for networking events, some of which may have landed in your spam, promotions, or social folders.
Moreover, if you’re interested in any specific companies or if you frequently visit industry-related websites, subscribe to their newsletters to stay up-to-date with upcoming networking events.
6 Tips for Getting the Most Out Of Your First Networking Event
Here are 6 networking tips that will guarantee a successful networking event:
- Set a goal. Attending a networking event with a goal in mind enables you to act strategically and make the most out of your time. For example, you may go to a networking event to expand your knowledge on a specific topic, connect with people from a specific company, or promote your business.
- Plan your outfit. First impressions matter, so make sure to plan your outfit beforehand (even if you’re attending an online networking event). Your outfit should make you feel confident, represent you as a professional, and match the type of networking event you’re attending.
- Get the introduction right. To leave a lasting impression, introduce yourself with a smile, your first and last name, and a firm handshake. Mention other people’s names throughout the conversation to make the connection feel more personal and genuine.
- Listen. Active listening is key to successful networking. Instead of making it all about yourself, make sure to listen to what other people have to say, ask questions, and show engagement with eye contact. This way, you’ll make others feel comfortable around you and show that you aren’t attending the networking event just to get something out of it.
- Prepare an elevator pitch and business cards. Have a concise elevator pitch ready to summarize your professional background or your business idea, especially if you have a specific goal, such as finding a job. Don’t forget to bring business cards so that people can later reach out to you.
- Follow up with your contacts. Send an email or a message on LinkedIn to any meaningful connections you’ve made to let them know you enjoyed the interaction. This is also a good chance to propose a meetup to discuss business opportunities.
5 Benefits of Networking Events
Attending networking events can bring you a number of benefits, including:
- Make valuable connections. If you’re looking to make connections in your industry, attending networking events is the way to go. After all, everyone is there to expand their network - even the industry leaders. Not to mention, networking events can also help you easily make connections in another industry if you’re planning a career change.
- Promote your business. Networking events give you a great opportunity to introduce your brand and business to a larger audience. By bringing more awareness to your business, you can effectively attract new customers, business partners, and investors, which can accelerate your business’ growth.
- Stay on top of business trends. Besides meeting people, networking events allow you to gain more knowledge and insight into your industry. As such, make sure to attend presentations, seminars, and lectures to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends.
- Get motivated. Networking events connect people that are passionate about what they do. As such, attending a networking event can boost your motivation and inspire you to set and reach professional goals.
- Improve your skills. Networking events are excellent for gaining and improving your professional and networking skills. For example, if you’re looking to become better at writing, you can attend a copywriting workshop. This way, you can get the best of both worlds - make new connections AND learn new skills to advance your career.
And that’s a wrap!
By now, you should know just about all you need to know about networking events, from their types to making the most out of a networking event, and everything in between.
So, here’s a brief recap of the key points mentioned in this article:
- Networking events are social gatherings that help you build professional connections.
- To pick the right networking event, it’s important that you consider your personality, target audience, and career objectives.
- Some of the types of networking events include webinars, career and trade fairs, workshops, roundtable discussions, and professional conferences.
- Checking your local event calendar and browsing networking websites are among the most effective ways to find networking events in your area.
- To get the most out of a networking event, bring business cards and prepare an elevator pitch.
- Networking events can help you not only to meet other professionals but also to improve your skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends.