How To Find, Plan and Attend Networking Events

the best way to network in your industryIn every business it’s important to establish connections with other people.

Whether it is in search of new clients or simply to meet similar industry experts, attending different networking events is a move in the right direction.

These events can often be hard to find, and even when found, there’s no guarantee any value will come out of it.  Plus, immersing yourself in awkward conversation outside of happy hour can often be a scary thought.

Lucky for you, this article will prepare you to rock any networking event you attend.  From the initial research to proper networking etiquette, stay tuned to transform your networking experience into a more productive one.

Let’s start at the source.

How to Find Networking Events Online

Use Local Online Newspaper Websites

Online newspapers do more than just report the news. They also inform us of local events in almost every industry.

Take, for instance, the Miami Herald Events Calendar:

how to plan a networking event in your industry

This page is extremely efficient when looking for networking events.

To find local events you simply have to choose or type an event category and date…

how to find networking events online

 

Or use the advance search options below:

how to use search results to find industry eventsYour event search page will display somewhat like this:

best networking events in your idustry

 

This is a great website to find free networking events. The Miami Herald also allows you to purchase tickets to an event right where the event is being featured.

Local Event Websites

Another way to find networking events is by using local event websites. These websites allow you to choose detailed information about a specific event whether it be a professional networking event or an after work happy hour.

Take for instance the Miami New Times:

using online event websites to submit your networking event

This website allows you to choose multiple professional events by choosing specific categories such as date, location and theme…

how to plan a networking event in your industry

Use this website to find after hour networking happy hours in your area such as the ones below:

how to organize your team to create a networkign event

Use Social Media

You probably have heard of this before, but another efficient way to find events is by using the Facebook event pages from different news sources.

Take for instance the Sun Sentinel’s Facebook Events Page:

using online newspapers to find local networking events

On this page, you can find a mixture of local events such as the ones below:

find networking events in you area

Although you may not find networking events every time, you’ll still find industry-oriented seminars and classes that can work to your advantage.

In addition, Facebook Graph Search might also facilitate the task by allowing you to type detailed descriptions and location based queries such as the one below:

find networking events with facebook's search graph

Now that you have a list of possible networking events, it’s time to start crafting your plan of action.

The first thing you may want to do is get organized. You’ll be amazed how this can work to your advantage.

Start by gathering your team and begin discussing the different collateral you may need as well as who will be attending and what each person will be responsible for.

To help you get better organized, use this brief outline:

  1. Pick an event.
  2. Discuss approaches with your team.
  3. Decide who will be attending.
  4. Discuss any design aspect such as banners, flyers, business cards or any other promotional material.
  5. Be prepared to give out something of value (e-book, pamphlet, sample, etc.).
  6. Crete a follow-up process for the contacts you meet.

Finding and attending these events is not easy, but hopefully these valuable tips will help you when executing your outline.

  • If you’re a beginner to networking events, remember to choose events that are within your budget. Like I mentioned before, you may come out with a winning deal, or you may leave just the way you came. Luck of the draw!
  • When attempting to discuss approaches with your team, remember to avoid sounding “salesy.”The point of a networking event is to inform and create ties. They are not meant for direct selling.
  • When deciding who should attend, you may want to consider employees who are well-spoken and feel comfortable talking in front of a group. To make it easier on yourself and your employees, just ask who wants to attend.
  • A polished and professional presence is very important in networking events. If a particular event requires a booth or table, remember to choose a clear and concise banner and flyer design that portrays your company in an approachable manner. Avoid being too promotional. It’s often a turn off.
  • Although everyone likes free stuff, if you hand something out that has absolutely no value, you probably won’t hear back from anyone. Remember to offer something your future contacts can use and benefit from such as an informational e-book, or a free sample of a product or service.
  • Remember to follow-up with those individuals with whom you established a meaningful relationship. Otherwise, don’t bother.  Pro Tip: It’s not so much how many contacts you get, but the quality of each contact.

You’ve been planning for months, and the day has finally arrived. It’s networking time!

Remember to always arrive early to set-up your booths or even to get acquainted with the setting.

Pro Tip: The best possibilities of connecting with others can often be found before the event starts. This is due to the fact that pressure is off and minds are a little bit more relaxed. As soon as the clock hits start time, everyone’s game face takes over.

Here are additional tips that may help you fly to the top during a networking event:

  • Divide the room with your team. This will guarantee you cover everyone.
  • Create a sign-in system and collect names and e-mail addresses. I can’t begin to stress how important this part is. By collecting e-mail addresses this will allow you to target these individuals in the future through e-mail Marketing.
  • Relax. This is often an underestimated factor that makes a big difference. Remember that a networking event is not a race with time. You’ll be more inclined to attract people if you appear calm and confident.

Whether your goal is to attract new business or simply gain insight into industry trends, attending networking events is a must.  So brush up on your public speaking skills and get going!

Need a little help? We can help you find, plan, and attend your next networking event. Contact us today!

February 19, 2013

Written by Lucia Sastre

Lucia is an SEO Specialist with a true passion for Social Media and Public Relations. She has dedicated her efforts to researching and implementing new Marketing techniques for innovative technological trends. Prior to her induction to Optimum7 she successfully served in the Marketing Campaigns at Telefonica, Coastal Construction Company and Cleveland Clinic Hospital. She has also written for several newspapers including the South Florida Times, the Beacon Newspaper and the Examiner. Lucia graduated from Florida International University with a Degree in Mass Communications and a Minor in Art. With a passion for cultures and languages, she also completed four years of French at the University of Iowa. Lucia is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, but spent most of her life living in the United States, Mexico and South America. In her spare time, she is a freelance photographer, teaches tennis and enjoys the outdoors.

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2 Comments

  1. Chris Cason
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Another great way to find networking events is to check on meetup.com.

  2. Posted March 3, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Meetup is a good one and if you’re in New York you can also use Ohours and Amusemi to meet new people.

    When I lived in Naples I always had trouble meeting new people professionally because the population is so old there, maybe it’s better in Miami.

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