Networking events allow professionals from different fields to connect with job seekers, and the main purpose of these events is to foster future collaborations between potential business partners or employers and job hunters.
Since networking events can make or break your career, you might have some trouble finding the right ones. These events are held for specific industries, so going to the right ones is key.
To help you out, in this article we explore what networking events are, why you need them, and what types of events you can attend.
- The meaning of “networking events” is basically social gatherings that allow businessmen, CEOs, supervisors, and job seekers to get together in one place and talk shop.
- One of the main goals of professional networking events is to establish connections between job seekers and employers. Other purposes include exploring certain industries and fostering collaboration opportunities.
- The main types of networking events include career fairs, workshops, conferences, seminars, and even webinars.
- The best way to find networking events is to ask your network, do some research, and use the city calendar.
What Are Networking Events?
Networking events are a type of social gathering. Its main purpose is to bring entrepreneurs, businessmen, CEOs, supervisors, managers, and job seekers together so that they can discuss potential future collaborations.
Networking events are also a great way to establish connections, as they are usually organized for people from the same industry. This makes it way easier to get in touch with people and companies you’re actually interested in.
Additionally, since this is an event where people mostly mingle, you can only talk to potential partners or employers for a short amount of time. That’s why it can be handy to come prepared to increase your chances of making a good first impression so people can remember you.
Why Are Networking Events Important?
Networking events are important because you’ll get the chance to:
- Get insights from the top people in the industry. As we’ve mentioned before, a lot of businessmen and even CEOs attend networking events. Getting into such close quarters with them is a great way to find out more about what the industry wants and needs.
- Increase collaborations. Since networking can happen both inside and outside of an organization, you’ll get to meet people from different departments. This will allow you to start relationships with them, which will further boost your position within the company.
- Gain new knowledge. As the people who attend these events have been part of the industry for a long time, they will likely give you proper advice, feedback, and support. This is a great way to figure out what steps you need to take to kickstart your career.
- Get job opportunities. Attending networking events helps you make connections with people in the industry. There are plenty of employers waiting to hire you through these types of events.
- Develop personally. Networking events are a great way to get out of your comfort zone. Since you will get to talk to a lot of people during the event, you’ll enhance your social and communication skills by approaching them.
8 Types of Networking Events
Here are some of the most common examples of networking events:
#1. Career Fairs
Career fairs are one of the most important types of recruiting and networking events in general. This is where both employers and potential new employees intentionally come to meet, and for that reason, they’re also referred to as “career expositions” and “job fairs.”
Career fairs are an excellent way for job seekers to explore available positions as well as acquire some additional industry knowledge. People usually attend these because they are efficient and simple. Both parties know that they’re going there for job positions, and they prepare for these types of job-related discussions beforehand.
Although companies are usually required to pay to attend the career fair, some fairs may require individuals to pay a participation fee beforehand or in person. This fee can be anything from $50 to $250.
Career fairs are also one of the best networking events for students, as they can almost always attend them for free.
#2. Industry-Related Events
Industry-related events are—just as the name suggests—events where you can meet people who work in an industry you’re interested in. These types of events usually have public speakers who are experts in the field.
The main advantage of attending industry-related events is that you’ll get valuable insight into the industry and can discover skills that are important to the job you’re pursuing. Additionally, you can also make valuable networking contacts through these events.
To find these events, you need to check out industry-specific news outlets and even follow industry professionals on social media.
#3. Roundtable Discussions
A roundtable discussion is a gathering in which people talk about a specific industry-related topic. During these events, you’ll get to hear the opinions of people in the industry as well as share your own business ideas.
A facilitator runs these events, and their main responsibility is to ensure that everyone is participating in the conversation. Roundtable discussions can also help you identify important technical skills and learn more about the field you’ve chosen.
These types of discussions are also a great option for those who prefer to work in smaller groups, as they are quite intimate.
Workshops are a great option for those looking for networking events for entrepreneurs. They can be about different types of topics and issues and might help you make long-lasting connections. During workshops, attendees can socialize and meet new people in the industry.
Workshops are conducted face-to-face, which is a great way to meet the people you want to know more about in person. These types of networking events usually involve smaller groups, so you might be able to allow your introverted nature to blossom.
#5. Trade Shows
A trade show (also referred to as a trade fair or a trade exhibition) is a gathering in which companies showcase their products and services to potential new clients and collaborators.
Each company that exhibits at trade shows has its own booth with representatives and brochures. This is a great option for both the business and the attendees, as the business can showcase what they offer, and the attendees can network and make new connections while learning about a company’s products.
#6. Volunteer Groups
Volunteering is a great way to not only give back to your community but also to network. These types of activities can benefit both you and your community. You’ll be helping to resolve certain issues while still creating connections with people around you.
Explore opportunities at volunteer centers in your area or certain NGOs to get your networking started.
Webinars are very similar to workshops. The main difference between the two is that a webinar is held online. Due to this, webinars can easily connect professionals from around the entire world and are not limited to those that are nearby.
During a webinar, businesses will talk about a specific topic, and every attendee will have the chance to ask questions. These events also include polls and presentations, which can help you keep track of the conversation.
The best thing about webinars is that you can attend them at any time and anywhere, provided you have a good WiFi connection. This makes webinars one of the most efficient forms of networking.
Lastly, most webinars are free to attend. However, some may ask you to pay a participation fee beforehand.
#8. Speed networking
Speed networking is the fastest networking option available. Professionals share information at a rapid pace as they have a set amount of time to do so. The main goal of these meetings is to connect with more professionals because discussions take less time.
During a speed networking event, you will be speaking with another person, and after the timer rings, you’ll be asked to move on to another person. Since the whole process goes by quickly, it’s important to prioritize the most important information before you enter the event.
Think of some vital information, such as who you are, what you do, what you want to do, and what you’d like to ask the other person. Share your contact information at the end of each conversation. You can also give each person a business card so that they can contact you for a more detailed discussion.
How to Find Networking Events
Here are some of the easiest ways to find networking events:
#1. Ask Your Network
You can try asking your colleagues and friends to see whether they have heard of any events. Colleagues are always a good option when it comes to finding industry-related networking events. If they come up short, try asking your friends about how they find events and fairs for themselves.
Attending networking events that aren’t related to your industry is still a great way to meet new people and make new connections. So, don’t hesitate to give those a go as well!
#2. Do Some Research
The next step is to do some research online. If there’s a company you’re interested in, look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media platforms to find out whether they’re organizing a networking event any time soon.
Additionally, you can also go through some online networking sites such as Meetup, Xing, and Bark. These sites are fairly easy to use. You create an account, add your interests and career goals, and you’ll automatically get connected to users with similar information.
#3. Check your City Calendar
The city where you live may have a calendar that lists the schedule of different types of events and conferences. These calendars are open to the public and can be found online by searching the query “your city’s name + city calendar.”
A lot of companies will ask the city’s officials to add networking events to these calendars as well, so make sure to always keep an eye out for them!
How to Choose a Networking Event
Let’s look at some criteria you should consider before choosing the right event for you:
Set Career Goals
Before attending any networking events, set some career goals first. Career goals help you get a better understanding of what you want to achieve and what you want to discuss during networking events.
These goals can be:
- Learning something new about the industry
- Finding a mentor
- Connecting with people from your desired industry
Find The Right People
One thing you should always prioritize is the people instead of the actual event. If an event appears professional and well-organized but the people you want to talk to are not there, it’s most likely not worth attending.
Although meeting new people and building connections is valuable, some networking events will ask you to pay a fee beforehand. These fees can get quite pricey, and it’s not worth paying for them if you’re not going to be able to reach your goal.
Match the Event to Your Personality
Although networking events are a great way to get out of your comfort zone, they should never make you feel discouraged or extremely uncomfortable. The whole point of networking events is to build professional relationships that will last, and to do so, you’ll need to present yourself confidently.
If you feel more confident sharing your story and career goals in smaller groups, there are plenty of events like that available.
Choose Events That Will Help You Grow
Your main priority is to learn and grow through every networking event you attend. Whether you get a successful outcome or not is not the only important thing. It’s crucial to use these events to learn more about the industry and grow both personally and professionally.
Choose events that can provide this, as the whole point is for you to build connections, and to do so, you need to be comfortable and have the moments in which you shine.
How to Prepare For a Networking Event
Here are some of the best ways to help you prepare for a networking event:
- Research the key people and decide whom you’d like to meet. If the company you’re applying for a job with is organizing the event, it’s a good idea to first do some research on that company. This way, you can get some quick insight on who works there and which one of them you might expect to see on your interview panel.
- Prepare an elevator pitch. Since you’ll only be mingling, there’s only a short amount of time you’ll get to interact with potential employers. That’s why you’re going to need an elevator pitch.
- Dress nicely. Some industries require specific dress codes. If you’re unsure about what to go for, opt for solid and dark colors. Go for the safest option, which is business casual.
- Have a name tag and business cards ready. As mentioned above, you’ll only get a short amount of time to speak to potential employers. That’s why you should always have business cards with you. Once you’re done speaking with a potential employer, hand your business card over to them to show your interest in keeping in touch.
- Be positive and listen attentively. Keep a positive attitude throughout the entire event. Don’t let constructive criticism affect you if it comes your way. Stay focused, and remember that even if you don’t get a job out of this event, you at least gained some additional knowledge about the industry.
Whether you’re looking for a job or looking to hire your next employee, networking events are a great way to meet people. They’re also a great opportunity to learn, as you can get insight from the people at the top of the industry.
To get started, do some research online and find out whether any networking events are planned near you. If that’s not the case, you can opt for a quicker and easier solution like webinars.
We hope this article has helped you understand networking events a bit better, and we wish you good luck on your next one!