Relationships are like a form of capital, and networking is what builds them and keeps them growing. In fact, your social capital has to grow before your money situation changes–that’s what people mean when they say “you have to give value”.
In other words, in order to increase your paycheck as an entrepreneur, you have to build your social capital, then money will be a byproduct. That’s the frustrating thing about attending business networking events that are a waste of your time.
You go to increase your social capital and reputation, and you leave wondering what happened. On the flip side, you don’t want to go to networking events and waste time too much because the longer your social circle stays small, the longer your paychecks suffer–that’s why going to a bad event can be very frustrating. You lose out on money and time when you attend the wrong business networking events.
Good Business Networking Events vs. Bad Networking Events
Not all business networking events are created equal. There’s events with huge crowds that can be total duds and there’s events with small groups that can change your life. A bad networking event will leave you feeling like you’ve been robbed. You have a reason for attending; whether to meet new people, to acquire new clients, or simply to grow your social network. With a bad event, the objectives for intending to go aren’t met. On the contrary, with a good events help you to learn new things, meet new people, and have the power to change the trajectory of your future in powerful ways. Some people meet business partners, long-term clients, find collaboration opportunities, or find business deals simply from attending a good networking event, but you have to be careful to look in the right places when you’re hunting for networking events.
Places To Find Business Networking Events
When you meet very successful people, you’ll find they’re not going to every “networking event”. Instead, there is some intention that goes into choosing the events to attend, and even deciding where to look to find events.
1. Find Trade Journals and Trade Periodicals
Often times, when you join a professional association, they have their own trade journals and periodicals that inform you of recommended vendors, topics to be attentive to, and there’s specialized events. Often times, people who really take interest in their profession will participate in niche specific events and write for periodicals.
You can go to events to be around other people in your trade. This can provide further education for you as you are trying to grow professionally, you can cross-polinate one another’s businesses by referring clients who may be more suited for the other, and you can even provide support to one another when you’re going thru various growth stages where you have more work than laborers or where you have less work than laborers. Niche collaborations can be very helpful in your business and career, and may even prevent your doors from shutting. You never know…
2. Follow Industry Leaders
Industry leaders have gained authority for a reason: they must be delivering authoritative advice to a large number of people over time. People like Tony Robbins in the personal development space or Jay Abraham in the Marketing Consulting space.
When you follow these industry leaders, you gain insight about what they do, and you can see holes in the market, opportunities, verbiage that might be familiar, and you’ll hear about events where other professionals in your industry or your target audience are likely to be. You can follow these industry leaders on social media, thru their email lists, or if they’re local you might be able to find other means to keep in contact with them.
3. Cross Polinate by Attending Events Where You’re Target Audience Would be
Similar to how you would attend events in your trade, read trade journals, and watch for periodicals to understand your trade, you want to do this same activity to understand and build connections with your target audience.
For example, if you decide that Lawyers are your target audience, you could subscribe to trade journals, email lists, and periodicals that give you insight about their trade. You can attend local “Lawyer Meetups”, vendor events, or industry events to meet lawyers, and build relationships. Cross pollinating by attending events where you’re target audience would be could be invaluable to your profession and your business.
4. Check Out Event Platforms
Event platforms might be common sense to you. If not, here’s a list of some great event platforms you might want to check out:
- Social media (especially local groups and niche specific groups)
- Local Newspaper
5. Attend Live Interactive Webinars and Mastermind Groups
Added onto the live events, you should also look into live virtual events. Often times, virtual events (especially the ones where you have to register or they’re limited in size) will be facilitated where you can get to know other like-minded people.
They may have time where you can introduce yourself and others which can be invaluable to you. When you’ve found some networking events that look probable, here’s some things to keep in mind…
Characteristics of Good Business Networking Events
You want to do some research and prepare before going to business networking events by going over some prelimaries like…
Reason for Attendance
If you’re attending simply to hear or interact with the speaker, you might spend less time than if you’re trying to meet new people. Also, you’ll want to bring with you business cards, something to take notes with, and possibly even a recorder (if you’re allowed) to capture memories. It’s important to be very clear about the goal you have for each event, so you can research further to ensure the event will be able to fulfill that goal.
Agenda, Topics, and Speakers
Some events are simply too crammed together, so they don’t leave much time for getting to know people. They may go from speaker to speaker, and at the end rush everyone out.
You want to make sure you’ll have time to mingle with others, and if you’re looking to interact with event coordinators, you have time to do that also. Added onto poor scheduling, you can also run into events where the topics are clearly a red flag for you because they may be boring, inconsistent with your values, or you can see the event may not attract a focused niche or group.
You want to do some research to make sure the topics are going to draw out provoking thought and conversation. You may find that even with a bad schedule and mediocre topics, a great speaker can make all the difference. Look into the speakers to see how they will impact the quality of the event.
The event organizer is going to play a crucial role in the composition of the event. Often times, they choose the speakers, the venue, and they may even choose the topics and agenda. You want to know the organizer has a relevant background enough to host a good event.
Paid vs. Free
Whether we like it or not, the truth is… When things are free, people tend to take it for granted. If it’s free and 30 people said they are going, 30 people may not show up because they didn’t have to invest anything. Often times, for a paid event (especially a higher priced one), people will come if they said they will come.
The price of the event also often impacts the quality of how it’s organized and the quality of those in attendance. An event that’s free won’t have the same people as an event that’s $15,000, however, higher price doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a better event either. Regardless of price, you want to go to an event that’s valued, where the people are committed, and where the material and setting will be intimate enough to enable relationship building.
Number of Attendees
Similarly, people often make the mistake of believing that large crowds means high quality event, and this fallacy couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some events attract alot of consumers and people who want to be in a crowd, but others will attract serious professionals who are on a mission to improve themselves and their businesses–the latter is what you want.
If you’ve done research and someone in particular will be in attendance, you might want to attend simply to meet the person, and that’s okay. It’s good to look into who might be in attendance prior to going to an event to see if it’s consistent with what you were hoping.
Purpose of Event
Some events are merely for entertainment or serve another purpose aside from networking or professional development. These are not the best events to target if you’re looking to grow your social capital professionally. Instead, you want to look for events where people are genuinely there to provoke thought, develop skills, and meet others doing the same.
A few years back, a major event marketer by the name of MOBE was shut down by the FTC for being a pyramid scheme. They hosted very professional looking events, but their marketing was deceptive. Watch out for red flags in the advertising, people who have shady backgrounds, and other things that could make the event lost the valauable intent you have for it. Things like vague promises, unethical statements or backgrounds, or bad business practices might be some red flags worth looking into before attending an event.
Use Business Networking Events to Shake Up Your Social Network
Often times, we flock towards people we have things in common with, which leaves us with a social circle that doesn’t grow us or pull us to the next level professionally. If you choose events that take you out of your comfort zone (not in an ethical sense), you can meet people who may be more successful than you, may know complimentary things as you, or may know someone who needs your product or service.
Calendar Your Networking Time
Events can be really powerful, but if you’re spotty on following up or even attending the event, you could be wasting time and missing out on valuable opportunities. When you go to business networking events:
- Exchange information with others
- Probe them like a journalist would to get to know them
- and commit to following up and developing relationships
Final Words on How To Find Business Networking Events
The goal of this article was to show how to find local networking events. There’s so much more to say about this topic, so I will definitely write more on this if this is valuable to you.
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Now, it’s Your Turn…
How do you find good business networking events? What results have you gotten from attending networking events? Leave your comments below.