Making connections with other professionals is an important part of growing your career. Knowing people in your field or industry could help you get job referrals or other opportunities. The first step toward meeting other professionals is attending networking events. In this article, we discuss 10 types of networking events that could advance your career.
What are networking events?
Networking events are a chance for groups of professionals to gather together and make connections. Each event you attend may look different. Some are more casual and give people time to converse with one another. Others are more structured and could feature a lecture or presentation. The purpose of these events is for people in an industry to grow their network.
10 types of networking events
Here are 10 types of networking events that can help you grow your connections and advance your career:
- Happy hour meetups
- Industry-specific seminars
- Virtual groups
- Career fairs
- Conferences/trade shows
- Breakfast or luncheon meetings
- Community service groups
- Speed networking
- Roundtable discussions
1. Happy hour meetups
Happy hour meetups are a casual type of networking event. Usually, the organizers of the event rent out a portion of a bar or restaurant for your group. During the happy hour, everyone is welcome to have a few drinks and appetizers while they converse with other professionals. Since this is a laid-back environment, it's a low-stakes way to get to know other professionals on a personal level.
2. Industry-specific seminars
During an industry-specific seminar, you can learn about different topics that are relevant to your field or industry. Many event organizers plan time before the seminar where you can converse with other professionals. Generally, there will be light snacks and refreshments to enjoy. During the seminar portion, an industry expert teaches the group about a topic. For example, if you're going to a marketing-specific seminar, you may learn about topics like social media strategies, copywriting techniques or email marketing.
3. Virtual groups
There are many industries or job-specific virtual groups you can join for networking purposes. Many of them are on social media websites or online forums. The group may use email newsletters or Slack messages to inform members of different virtual networking events. A common type of virtual meetup is when an industry expert gives an online presentation through video conferencing. An event organizer may also hold a live Q&A where you can message or video chat with other professionals about specific questions you have.
4. Career fairs
Career fairs are excellent networking events for people starting their careers. Many colleges and universities hold career fairs throughout the school year for students to attend. During this event, you can meet with representatives from multiple companies. It's a chance for you to introduce yourself and ask a few questions about their company. Many employers with job openings have booths at career fairs, which is a great opportunity to give representatives your resume so they're familiar with your name when you apply to a position.
Read more: The Best Ways to Find a Job at a Career Fair
5. Conferences/trade shows
Many industries combine conferences and trade shows. Essentially, a trade show is when businesses within a particular industry can present their products and services. Trade shows usually take place at a large expo center where businesses set up company-sponsored booths. People interested in these products or services can talk to representatives at each booth or exhibition, which is a useful way for businesses and their clients to meet face-to-face.
Some industries add a conference portion to the trade show. During this portion, guests can attend various seminars and keynote speeches that relate to the industry. Many of these presentations count toward continuing education hours. This kind of event also gives professionals a chance to gather in one place and connect with one another.
Read more: How to Effectively Network at a Conference
6. Breakfast or luncheon meetings
At a breakfast or luncheon meeting, an event organizer prepares a meal for all attendees to enjoy while they get to know each other. The purpose of these meetings can vary. If you are a part of a group, you may meet to plan projects or discuss important subjects. Other times, the organizer may invite someone to speak at the event. During breakfast or luncheon meetings, you get to converse and connect with fellow professionals.
7. Community service groups
Community service groups are where volunteers and donors can interact with one another. If you work for a nonprofit, you may attend an event like this to get to know the people who support your cause. Likewise, volunteering for this kind of event is a great way to meet community members and increase your network of contacts. It's also a great way to give back to a good cause.
Related: 7 Reasons to Consider Volunteering
8. Speed networking
Speed networking is a way for professionals to rapidly make connections with other professionals. Like speed dating, you meet one-on-one with another professional for a set period of time. During this meeting, you can introduce yourself, ask a few questions and share contact information. Event organizers may even provide you with prompts of what to talk about. After the time is complete, you move on to another person. Many colleges also offer speed networking events where students can briefly meet one-on-one with industry professionals to get career advice and share their resumes.
Workshops are a chance to develop your skills while growing your network. Most workshops focus on a particular topic or skill. During a workshop, you may watch a presentation or do more interactive learning. For example, if you were to go to a team-building workshop, you may participate in different team-building activities. Likewise, a coding workshop could be a chance to work on your coding while getting hands-on help from another professional.
10. Roundtable discussions
Roundtable discussions are when a small group of people meets to discuss or debate a particular subject. It's a great way to share your opinions and thoughts while learning other perspectives. The goal of roundtable discussions is to facilitate respectful conversations. While you are speaking, everyone is focused on what you're saying. When it's the next person's turn, you direct your attention to them. There is often a potion for follow-up questions and closing remarks.