Whether you are looking to build your dream career or start your own business, networking is one of the first steps on the path to success. Networking events make it much easier to network, but how do you find the right one for you?
Set Your Networking Goals
Before you sign up for networking events, first get clear on what what your networking goal is. If you are looking to learn more about training and development, don’t go to a meetup for people with dogs. But, if you are looking to become a pet marketing expert, you’d want to sign up for that dog meetup right now!
Once you have a good idea of your networking goal, find a few different associations and events to “try” so you can find one association or membership group you really love. The value of attending networking events comes when you continually attend the events and see people each month. THAT is when you start to get to know each other and the referrals for dream career opportunities start rolling in. By attending an event only once, you meet someone, maybe exchange business cards and never see them again.
You want to explore multiple groups so you can find the ONE (or maybe two, if you have the time) that you really enjoy and want to attend every meeting. You can’t just turn up and expect to get referrals. Look for a networking group that focuses on building relationships, mentoring, learning and avoiding the “Sell, sell, sell” approach. Statistics show that most referrals come not from the first meeting within a group, but from second and third level referrals.
Once you find the right group to join and you make it a priority to get to all the events on your calendar, look into leadership positions in the group to start meeting even more people.
Here Are 6 Ways to Find the Right Networking Event
1. Google It
Google networking groups, your industry and your location. Often you will be able to find websites who have listed a variety of networking groups in a certain location. For example, here is San Diego networking events for women. Also, try searching for women’s networking groups in your location as well.
Request informational interviews with people in fields you are interested in. Ask them what networking events they attend and join those. Post on LinkedIn in groups in your industry and ask what association you should join.
3. Look on LinkedIn
Look on LinkedIn to see what types of groups people in your industry are part of. LinkedIn is your secret weapon. You can see the job history of careers that you really want and it will tell you all of the groups you need to be part of as well. You can be a spy and see what groups someone who has your desired job title is in. Join those and start networking!
4. Search Meetup or Eventbrite
There are so many events that you can choose from. The two sites that need to be on your radar for networking events are meetup.com and eventbrite.com. You can find events for people with the same interests as you have and if they don’t have an event yet, why not start one yourself!
5. Twitter Hashtags
These days nearly every event has a Twitter hashtag. If you are at an event, its great to follow this hashtag to connect with people at the event. But here’s the real secret: even if you aren’t at an event, you can still follow the hashtag and network with the attendees. We recommend following hashtag streams in your industry to find out seminars that are happening.
6. Your Dream List
Make a list of your favorite speakers and authors and check out their websites for where they are speaking next. Who would you love to meet in person or hear speak? Don’t be afraid to travel if needed! The best investment you can make is in yourself!
What networking events are you attending? Maybe we can meet in person!
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