A quick and easy way to do a lot of networking in one shot is to attend networking events. Events provide multiple opportunities in which to meet people, and create an efficient atmosphere to learn about others. It is a good idea to formulate a plan on which events you want to attend, how often you can viably attend these events, and which events give you the most opportunities.
Many events are either free or have a cost. Events that cost money can range from a few dollars at the door to a thousand dollars. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but paid events tend to have a pinpointed list of attendees of movers and shakers you may want to meet. However, the cost of some of these events makes attending them prohibitive. Free events are great because you have nothing to lose but time, but you may find yourself one of many individuals trying to meet the next big opportunity with no big decision-makers present. Choose wisely where you spend your money. Do your research about the event and attendees, and pick events that will give you the best bang for your buck.
Many networking events are hosted by various organizations. You will want to look for organizations that are within your industry or field of interest, and in your area. These will be more fruitful for you in meeting people that you can help and can help you. It’s best to pick from a variety of organizations. For example, you may get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce to meet a variety of business people, but attend the Young Women of Hedge Funds event for a pinpointed selection of individuals who can directly help you within your industry.
Do research on the internet, your local library, or ask fellow co-workers to understand where there are good events and organizations. Try also looking at your alumni events from your college; seminars, lectures or training courses that are industry-related; investor-related events such as stockholder meetings; and conventions, trade shows, association meetings or charity events. You may also want to look at places where a lot of people you want to meet congregate, such as bars, restaurants, country clubs, or vacation spots. Take a look at activities in which people you want to meet participate such as golfing, running, boating, or car clubs.
Make a list of all the events, organizations and places you want to try out, and begin to formulate a plan of how you will get involved. Keep track of which events you meet people at, and which events are not providing opportunities. If after three months or three visits a particular event or place is not panning out, don’t be afraid to drop it from your list and replace it with another potential event. Don’t waste your time with pointless networking events. Make sure each and every event is creating connections for you. You only have so much time!
Most events or organizations will have a lifespan. You may find a particular event was great in getting you started in networking, but now you know everyone who is attending and it no longer presents as many opportunities to meet new people. You may want to cut down your commitment and time to that particular event in order to open up more time for another event. The important thing is to realize that this peak happens, and appropriately switch to other prospects as needed. You must constantly refresh your networking schedule in order to open up more chances for good connections.
Planning the frequency of your networking events is vital. Be sure you have a consistent schedule of networking events. Find events that occur weekly, monthly and yearly, and schedule them accordingly so that you are attending something important to your networking building every other week. Best practice is to attend a great networking event one week, and then focus on follow ups and individual meetings the next week. Alternating your weeks will help you refresh your possibilities while still leaving time to follow-up on the opportunities you have encountered.
Building your network can seem like a daunting task, but networking events are a great way to help build up your network quickly and efficiently. It requires careful planning and selectivity, but once you get a consistent schedule together, you will reap the benefits of creating a networking engine that works specifically to drive along your career.
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