The reason to grow your network is clear: the bigger your network, the more likely you are to know someone who can offer career help, whether by making an introduction, serving as a reference, or more. The easy way to build up your network is with current and former colleagues. But once those relationships are in place, and you’re connected on LinkedIn, how else can you expand your network?
One option is attending networking events. They’re arranged to help people form connections. The trick is, first you have to find the right events. Get tips on how to find networking events, as well as how to make the most of them.
1. Talk to Friends and Colleagues
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth! Colleagues will often know industry-focused networking events. Friends who do not work in your industry can share how they find events. (And, even attending out-of-industry events can lead to meeting interesting people.)
Ask co-workers and friends about any professional events they’re planning to attend or ones they’ve enjoyed in the past. This can include breakfast discussions or networking events, happy hour events, conferences, roundtables, lectures, discussions, classes, and so much more. Your mentors are a good source for recommendations, too.
2.Browse Networking Sites
Thanks to the internet, there are tons of ways to find events, conferences, and specifically networking-focused events, all categorised by geographic location.
Two of the most popular and well-known sites include:
- Meetup: Explore free and low-cost in-person meet-ups in your industry, whether it’s beauty, tech, photography, or something else. There’s also a category for “career and business events” with a wide variety of career-focused groups that meet regularly.
- Eventbrite: This event-based site has listing pages for free and paid events. You’ll find fairs, festivals, discussions, conferences, classes and much more.
3. Check Social Media and Your Inbox
Do you follow industry organisations on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram) and subscribe to newsletters? Many organisations put on annual or even more frequent events.
Look for the organisations in your industry and follow them on social media through newsletters. If you’re not sure which organisation are prominent ones, ask colleagues, enquire on LinkedIn, or do a quick online search.
For more places to find networking events, think local. You may also find events open to all at community organisations, co-working spaces, and through your local chamber of commerce.
Make the Most of Networking Events
Going to endless events can be fun and exhausting, but it’s not helpful to your career by default. Here are a few tips on how to ensure these networking events truly aid your career.
Expand your definition of networking. Some events are specifically identified as having the purpose of networking. But keep in mind that anytime you meet someone, it’s an opportunity to expand the number of people you know. Networking doesn’t have to be forced; it can be a matter of making acquaintances and friendships.
Know what you want to get out of the event. Are you going to the event to learn more about a topic, to meet people, or to connect with someone at a specific company you’d like to work for? Having a specific goal can be helpful, even if it’s just “introduce myself to two people who are in my field and exchange business cards or connect on LinkedIn.”
Be prepared with an elevator pitch. If there is something specific you’re hoping to get out of an event, come prepared with an elevator pitch. That is if you’re hunting for a job, starting off a new business, transitioning careers, etc., be prepared with a 30-second quick speech of your background and experience, and what you’re looking for next.
Follow up with meaningful contacts. Even a thousand LinkedIn contacts won’t help if none of them remembers who you are. It is a good idea to connect with people on LinkedIn-and, in general. But if you meet one or two people that you have an in-depth conversation, send a quick email or LinkedIn message to let them know you enjoyed your conversation.
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Mia Eng is a freelance content writer, who specializes in lifestyle and beauty contents. When she isn’t busy writing or editing, Mia enjoys going out on road trips and also photography.
Contact me at email@example.com