“Networking events”—the two words conjure images of boring businessmen in suits, shaking hands and patting each other on the back. However, contrary to popular belief, not every networking session is a complete snoozefest. Choose the right type of event for you, and you might just have a good time while expanding your professional network.
Whether you’re new to the realms of networking or you do it all the time, you may be looking for some advice. We’ve got you covered. Here at Resume.io, we are the go-to resource for job seekers and professionals who want to boost their career potential. In the following guide, we will be covering these topics:
- The benefits of attending networking events
- The best types of networking events and how they work
- Expert-backed tips on how you can choose the right type of session
Networking event benefits
Before we take a look at some of the best types of networking events, let’s talk about why you should bother with them. Here are some of the main benefits you can expect to reap:
- Find out about new job opportunities at other companies
- Expand your business connections and meet new people
- Learn new skills or develop your existing talents
- Connect with a business mentor who can guide you
- Finding out about developments and new projects
Whatever your career goals, there is no harm in expanding your professional network. As you will see in the following section, there are many different types of events out there.
10 Types of networking events you should try
Not all networking events are created equal. When you’re ready to start meeting new business connections, you need to choose the type of event that suits you and your personality. To help you out, let’s take a look at 10 different networking events:
1. Speed networking
Chances are, you’ve heard of speed dating. Well, the format for speed networking is the same. You move from table to table, speaking to each professional for just a few minutes. When the bell rings or the organizer says so, you have to get up and move on to the next table.
If you’re looking for a quick way to make a whole bunch of new connections, you’ve found it. However, you need to make sure that you make good use of the time you have. Nailing your 30-second elevator pitch is a good place to start. You can quickly share who you are, what you do, and what value you can bring to each new professional that you meet.
2. Happy hour networking
Fancy a drink? Happy hour drinking is exactly what it says on the tin. These networking events usually take place directly after work—so, between 5 PM and 7 PM—and involve grabbing a drink while speaking to like-minded professionals. While this may feel like a social event with your friends, keep in mind that you are there to make work connections.
3. Roundtable discussions
Roundtable discussions are an ideal way to expand your knowledge while meeting new people. These networking events allow a small group to discuss a new topic, project, or even concept in-depth. The organizer may invite experts in the field to host this event.
Before you sign up for one of these networking events, make sure that the subject aligns well with what you want to do. The entire event will be focused on this topic, so it must be something in which you’re highly interested. You should also do some research ahead of time so that you’re well-versed in whatever the subject matter is.
4. Career fairs
Looking for a new job? Attending career fairs is one approach to take. Often enough, colleges will host these events for newbie graduates. However, you can also search for these networking events online. You might find that there is one that is open to the public. Be sure to chat with all of the stallholders and get their details if you are interested in them.
Business cards at the ready!
If you are attending a career fair—or any networking event—make sure you have professional business cards. Include your name, title, and contact details on the card. You can even include a QR code that takes people to your LinkedIn page or website.
5. Work breakfasts
Are you an early riser? If the answer is yes, attending a work breakfast is a savvy move. These networking events typically take place in cafes over coffee and breakfast. You will need to book tickets in advance as spaces tend to be limited. The idea is that you meet with a small group, share ideas, and connect—all before your nine-to-five has started.
6. Workshop events
Upskilling is a must, no matter what your job title is. Whether it’s learning an entirely new skill, developing existing talents, or getting to grips with a new process, a workshop is the way to go. This type of networking event is all about educating yourself on something new.
However, there’s an added benefit to attending a workshop. You are likely to meet professional connections there. While you are attending the event, take the opportunity to speak to others and learn about their jobs and professional lives. Be open to each new person. You never know who you may come across when you do so.
Don’t fancy leaving the house? You can network from the comfort of your own home. Webinars are online workshops where you can learn a new skill. You may find out about these networking events through work or independently by looking for events online.
During webinars, a teacher will take you through a series of tasks or activities. Often enough, this involves moving to “break-out rooms,” i.e. virtual spaces in which you speak to other learners. This gives you the chance to speak one-on-one with other people who are attending the online event. Don’t forget to use that opportunity to introduce yourself.
8. Trade shows
Looking to network on behalf of your business? That’s where trade shows slide neatly into the picture. These large-scale networking events typically take place in expo halls and can play host to hundreds of businesses. The aim of the game is to increase brand awareness, showcase new products, launch services, and generally reach out to new customers.
If you are asked to attend a trade show for your business, you will be the face of the brand. You may find yourself answering client questions, sharing new information, and having meaningful conversations with the people who stop at your stall. It’s a tall order.
9. Industry-specific events
Whatever industry you’re in, there will be networking events that you can attend. Going to an industry-specific event means that you are more likely to meet valuable connections. Whether you’re searching for a new job or simply want to climb the career ladder, this type of event can help you. You may want to get other professionals’ contact details, enquire about new vacancies, or just mingle with people who work in a similar field as you do.
10. Lunch meetings
Want to make the most of every minute of the workday? Sign yourself up for a lunch meeting. These events are short and sweet—taking place over a casual lunch. You may find that they happen in a cafe or local restaurant. While there are different types of lunch networking events, these tend to involve getting food (of course!) and meeting people.
When you’re looking at lunch networking events, read the description or speak to the organizer first. You may find that each event follows the same structure or that there is a specific topic or theme for every event. Make sure that you are prepared before you go.
Tips for choosing the right networking events
By this point, you should be in the know about networking events. If you’re unsure which one will suit you, here are some quick expert tips to help you choose:
- Consider your schedule. As you might imagine, the above networking events all take place at different times of day. When you are deciding which one to attend, think about how it will fit into your current weekly schedule.
- Decide what you want to gain. What do you hope to gain from networking sessions? If you want to learn something new, opt for a webinar or workshop. If you’re looking to meet people in your field, attend an industry-specific event.
- Take a “trial and error” approach. Spoiler: Not every networking event will suit you. However, you might not know which one is right for you until you try it. Sign up for a few different networking events and give them a whirl.
- Attending networking events is an effective way to meet new people and boost your career potential.
- Not every networking event is the same. It’s worth looking at the different types of events in your area before you sign up for one.
- First impressions matter. Make sure you are prepared before you attend sessions.
- If you’re new to the game, take a look at our tips to help you choose the right event.