7 Types of Networking Opportunities
Networking is an important part of your professional career. It can help you meet new people, build important connections and learn new things. However, it's important for you to network in the right places at the right times. In this article, we discuss what networking opportunities are, types of networking opportunities and types of groups that host networking events.
What is a networking opportunity?
A networking opportunity is an event that allows you to interact with other business professionals to form connections, seek advice and learn new skills. You can interact with potential suppliers or vendors, and you have access to industry experts, business competitors and potential clients to start mutually beneficial relationships. Networking events in range in sizes, and they may occur in person or online.
Read more: The Complete Guide to Networking
Why are networking opportunities important?
Networking opportunities offer important business and personal growth opportunities. Networking opportunities may help you:
Look for a new job
Meet or recruit new clients
Find potential capital for your start-up business
Meet professionals from other industries
Learn new techniques
Improve your skills
Find new opportunities
Keep up with the latest industry trends
Find a mentor
Build awareness about your latest business venture
Learn more about the viewpoints of others
Read more: The Importance of Networking in Business (Tips Included)
7 types of effective networking opportunities
There are different types of networking opportunities. It's important for you to choose the type of networking event that best fits your needs. For example, you may be networking to get a new job, gain new skills, find partners for your new business or just to meet new people.
Here are some different types of effective networking opportunities:
Happy hour networking meetups
Happy hour networking events are popular and effective networking opportunities. These meetups create a more relaxed atmosphere. Happy hour events can be a good way to meet new people in general. The casual environment may make it easier to introduce yourself to strangers and make polite conversation.
Industry-specific speaking engagements
Industry-specific speaking engagements provide multiple benefits. These events are an opportunity for you to learn from an expert within your industry. Many of these engagements are even specific to a specific topic or department you work in. These speaking engagements also provide you the opportunity to meet similar professionals and learn from your peers.
Seminars and conferences
Seminars and conferences allow you to learn new skills while you meet with other professionals. These may be multiple day events, and they may provide you with a better opportunity for you to meet people from other places. If you travel to these seminars or conferences with your workers, this may also help strengthen your working relationships.
Roundtable events promote discussion among peers. These forums help facilitate create ideas and encourage participants to share knowledge with one another. Roundtable events may provide you with new ideas while you make new connections.
Related: 47 Great Questions To Ask at a Networking Event
Higher education lectures
Many colleges and universities invite experts and leaders from a variety of leaders to speak. As an added benefit, many of these events are very affordable or even free to attend. If you live near a college or university, monitor their schedule of events to ensure you don't miss any exciting lectures.
Mixers are casual events in a variety of settings. These events often include professionals from different backgrounds. This provides you with an opportunity to meet with people you may not have otherwise met.
A company-specific informational interview offers benefits to both you and the company. You have the opportunity to practice your interview skills and learn more about a company, and the company learns more about you as a potential candidate. These are low-stakes opportunities to create connections. However, consider bringing your updated resume or business card in case the interviewer wants to learn more about you.
Read more: A Complete Guide To Informational Interviews
Types of networking organizations
Here are some examples of organizations that may offer networking events or help you expand your existing network:
Professional associates are groups that allow professionals to exchange information and ideas with each other. Many of these associations are industry specific, but some may relate to demographic information, such as associations based on age, gender or race. However, industry-specific associations allow you to meet with like-minded individuals within your industry or field of work. It's important to remember some of these associations may have membership fees or selection requirements to join.
Related: 57 Professional Associations To Boost Your Resume
Casual contact networks
Casual contact networks are groups that allow people with similar professions to connect. These networks often host monthly meetings and informal mixers. They may also invite speakers to discuss relevant topics or concerns.
Chambers of commerce are a common example of casual contact networks. These groups allow you to make contacts within your community. You also have the choice to take on more responsibilities within the organization, such as volunteering to be a chamber ambassador.
Strong contact networks
Strong contact networks, or strong contact referral groups, are small groups for members to share ideas and business referrals. They often have a specific focus, and many of them limit their membership to a certain specialty or professional. Many strong contact groups meet weekly on a regular schedule.
Community service clubs
Community service clubs provide you with the opportunity to learn more about your community. You may focus on a specific on a specific civic cause, which may also provide you with potential social capital. These clubs may also help you connect with other business professionals you may not have otherwise meet.
Social media or other online networks
Social media groups and online networks allow you to connect with professionals and like-minded individuals all over the world. You can meet others in formal and informal settings, such as chat rooms or groups. Even those these networking events, it's still important for you to still prioritize credibility, professionalism and building relationships.
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