Networking events are valuable opportunities to create and strengthen business connections, advance your career, build confidence, get career advice and more. However, not everyone takes advantage of these opportunities because they either don’t know where to look for them or have preconceived notions that they won’t fit in, think they’re too old or young, overqualified or inexperienced, etc. However, no matter your level of experience or industry, there are always networking events available to you – you just have to know where to look!
Where to Find Networking Opportunities
Here are a few resources to find upcoming networking opportunities in your area:
- Networking Websites: Websites like Eventbrite and Meetup will show you a wide variety of events taking place in your community. You can search by interest, date and/or location to start networking with others who have similar interests and professional goals. Joining groups on Facebook will also lead you to some worthwhile networking events.
- Local Chamber of Commerce: Visit your local chamber of commerce or take a look at the events calendar on the chamber’s website. Their calendar will include several networking events in the community hosted by the chamber or area businesses.
- Individual Meetings: If you find networking events to be too intimidating, you can start small by meeting individually with existing connections or get introduced to a professional by someone you know. Meet for a cup of coffee to learn about their career path and current role while also sharing your professional ambitions.
How to Create and Nurture Connections
Once you have identified the networking opportunities you’d like to attend, it’s important to focus on how you can make the most out of your experience. Here are a few tips for leveraging your networking events into worthwhile career opportunities:
- Buddy System: If you’re uncomfortable attending an event by yourself, bring a friend or coworker with you who is also interested in networking. You can encourage each other to wander off to meet some new people, but still check in with each other throughout the event, if needed.
- Ask to Be Introduced: If you don’t know anyone at the event, ask event organizers to introduce you to a few of their connections to break the ice and get conversations going.
- Don’t Overthink It: If you wait to find the perfect networking event at the perfect location on the perfect topic, you will be searching forever. Even if aspects of the event seem outside of your wheelhouse, attend anyway! You won’t be the only person there feeling that way and you may end up making more lasting connections because of it.
- Keep the Connection: Collecting business cards will work in a pinch, but most professionals you’ll interact with can be found on LinkedIn. Before you part ways with the connection you just made, ask to connect with them on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn app has a feature that allows you to connect with people near you so you don’t have to go searching for their profile. Once you have your Bluetooth activated, open the app and go to “My Network” then “Connect” then “Find Nearby.” Pull up this feature on the app and connect with them instantly!
By regularly using these tips to find networking events near you and make the most of the networking experience, you will gain a reliable and lasting professional network in no time.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.