5 Tips on How To Navigate Networking Events Like a Pro
Updated December 12, 2022
Attending networking events is a great way to boost your professional career and grow your contact list. These events provide you with the opportunity to meet various professionals in your industry, gain confidence and help you gain motivation toward achieving your personal career goals. If you're planning on starting a career as a professional, it can be helpful to learn about what networking events are so you know what to expect.
In this article, we explain what a networking event is, explain why they're important, list different types of them, and provide five tips on how to navigate networking events.
What is a networking event?
A networking event is a place where you can meet other professionals in your field hoping to make business connections. They can be great opportunities to land jobs, make connections that might benefit your future career and get to know key influencers in your industry. Attending networking events can also help you stay updated with industry trends and allow you to bounce ideas off others. It's important as a professional to take advantage of these events by keeping in contact with different people either in-person, over email or through social media and job networking sites.
Related: 10 Types of Networking Events
Why are networking events important?
Networking events are a great way to expand your network and keep your career goals at the forefront. Here are six reasons networking events can be beneficial to your professional career:
1. Make connections
Every networking event is full of attendees from different backgrounds, such as entrepreneurs, project managers and other industry-leading business professionals. If you're looking for employment, it's a great place to meet like-minded individuals and potential future employers. Hiring managers can also use these professional events to recruit candidates. Regardless, attending a networking event can grow your contact list and provide you with connections you can use later on in your career.
2. Stay on top of industry trends
Meeting others in your industry will likely lead to discussions about your current projects as well as what's worked for others and what hasn't. A networking event allows you to glean tips on running your own business or finding success in your field. When you meet with other professionals with similar career, you may learn about updates in your industry in terms of technology, policies and standards.
3. Get ideas
Attending a networking event can be a great way to foster inspiration and generate new ideas. Whether you're an employee looking for new ways to approach projects or a business owner hoping to grow your business, networking events allow you to hear firsthand experiences from speakers and business professionals. Hearing from them can provide you with some ideas to take with you into your workplace.
4. Stay motivated
As previously mentioned, ideas and inspiration are bound to arise at a networking event. Such revelations can foster a sense of motivation and, therefore, make you more productive in generating career success. Hearing success stories from others will not only be the fuel you need to spark ideas, but it'll also set them in motion as you build your portfolio.
5. Gain confidence
To be successful at a networking event, you'll need to be bold and introduce yourself to others. Going to a networking event is a great way to gather courage for future professional encounters. It also has the potential to ease nerves for future job interviews. Since you might meet future employers, knowing you've already met them when going into an interview can help you become more confident upon your next encounter.
6. Meet potential candidates
If you're an employer, attending a networking event is a great way to meet and recruit candidates. Since attendees are there to network professionally, you're guaranteed to meet potential employees who are interested in learning more about your company. It also provides you with the opportunity to engage with candidates in a more informal setting before deciding if you want to move forward with a formal job interview.
Types of networking events
One way to make sure you'll get the most out of a networking event is knowing you're attending the right one for you. Here are five types of networking events:
Industry-specific speaking engagement
Industry-specific events are a great way to learn about any updates in your field. Networking events often have various speakers. Attending an industry-specific speaking engagement will ensure you're hearing from the leading professionals in your field. This will also allow you to learn about topics directly related to your industry.
Happy hour networking meet-ups
A happy hour networking meet-up is a great option for those looking for a more relaxed and casual atmosphere. Rather than engaging in lengthy and serious conversations, these events allow you to make small talk and garner information while widening your professional circle in a more casual environment. These types of events often take place at cafes and restaurants.
Several online groups allow you the opportunity to meet other working professionals in a virtual setting. Being that the internet is an ever-growing space for communication, you can find several networking groups and forums to help you build professional relationships. Online groups can be especially helpful for introverted individuals who shy away from face-to-face interaction.
If you're an early riser, this type of event might be ideal for you. Breakfast networking allows you to meet with various professionals before they're bombarded by countless resumes from other candidates or the stress of the workday begins. It's also a great way to interact with business professionals without involving alcohol, as is common during happy hour meet-ups.
These types of networking events foster open communication and discussion with others on a similar subject. Roundtable events are a great way to bounce new ideas off others in your industry, glean insight and receive endless inspiration. Like all networking events, they're a great opportunity to meet new people.
Related: 10 Types of Networking Events
Tips for navigating networking events
The best way to have a successful networking event is to make sure you're well-prepared. Here are five tips to consider when attending these sorts of engagements:
1. Be prepared
It's important to know what you want from a networking event. Knowing your end goals, whether it's landing a job or widening your professional circle, will help you stay focused throughout the event. Bring plenty of business cards in case you meet a representative of a company that interests you.
Related: How To Prepare for a Job Fair
2. Take notes
Along with business cards, it can also be beneficial to take a pen and notepad. Taking notes will allow you to remember vital information from various attendees you encounter. Should someone ask for a resume, it's a great way to remind yourself to email one after the event.
3. Dress to impress
Consider the type of networking event you're attending and dress accordingly. Promotional material for the event may stipulate the dress code. Put in the effort to look the part and dress professionally, whether you're attending a formal event or a more casual affair. This will help employers and other professionals know you're serious about advancing your career.
4. Be an active listener
It's important to make eye contact, listen attentively and pay attention to your body language when engaging with others. This will help them know you're interested in their company or what they said. Pay close attention to names and give them time to speak. Displaying interest and sincerity will go a long way in earning respect in the professional world.
5. Follow up
If you've made any worthwhile connections, consider reaching out to them a few days after the event. In an email, for example, thank them for their time, let them know you enjoyed their conversation and mention part of the conversation you both had. This will not only help them remember who you are, but it can show you were paying attention and genuinely interested in what they said. If you're an employer, you can also invite a candidate to discuss any future openings at your company.
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