Dennis Waitley said it best when he said “If you’re not networking, you’re not working. Building long-term relationships is one of the most critical parts of success. Whether you want to launch a business or further your career, you’ll need to grow your network and beef up your reputation. Talking to the right people can unlock doors of opportunity that you’ve never imagined.
If you take a look around, you’ll find tons of ways to make connections. However, the key is to focus on quality, not quantity. Keep reading to learn five ways to find great networking opportunities in your city.
1) Use social media to your advantage
Because social media is one of the main ways that event planners market events, it is a great place to start when looking for networking opportunities near you.
Facebook is the largest social network on the planet, with over 2 billion users, so it is the recommended “go to” when it comes to making connections.
One great thing about FB is that the platform allows event planners to create pages to advertise any happenings.
When looking for networking opportunities in your city using Facebook, just go to the Events section and click on the button that says “discover new events.”
At the top of the page, you’ll see what events you’ve been invited to. The section below will show events that are popular with your friends, while the third section focuses on networking opportunities. The simple layout makes it simple to find activities you’re interested in attending without having to do a lot of searching or scouring the internet.
Facebook will also keep track of the events you show interest in or attend and recommend others to you by sending out a notification when they come available. For example, an artist who frequents (or even looks at) art events nearby might receive a Facebook notification saying “We found art events happening near you.”
LinkedIn is another excellent option for people wanting to boost their careers using social media networking. Since the site was built just for that, LinkedIn Events is the perfect place to make connections. “Attendees” can link up (pun intended) with organizers and go to events hosted by those they have connections with.
One great thing about this social media networking experience is that others can invite you to their events through ‘e-vites,’ making it easier than ever to get invited to happenings and attend them. The site even provides a space for organizers and attendees to discuss the event beforehand, deepening the connections made.
The process of embracing LinkedIn for networking isn’t a difficult one. All you need to do is create a LinkedIn account, update your profile information, add connections, and link up.
2) Check out Evenbrite.com and Meetup.com
Because they are two of the most popular networking event sites, most people have heard of both Eventbrite and Meetup. However, they are still worth mentioning since they are one of the best ways to find awesome ways to meet other professionals in your area.
With tons of categories to explore, Eventbrite allows networkers to post and search for events. From music and arts to classes and parties, Eventbrite offers much more than networking on a business level. Not only can you search by category, but the website also allows you to find great networking opportunities in your area.
Users can zone in on their particular city or look on a whole state level. You can search for events based on dates as well, so if you are looking for networking happenings set for a particular time, Eventbrite allows for that.
Both paid and free events are advertised on the site, so there are lots of options if you need a networking event that is affordable.
With slogans like “we are what we do” and “the real world is calling,” Meetup connects people to local events in their area. Like with Eventbrite, Meetup’s site is set up in categories. Some of the groupings include:
- Outdoors and adventure
- Health & wellness
- Sports & fitness
- Food & drink
- Language and cultures
- Sci-fi & games
- Book clubs
- Hobbies & crafts
- Fashion & beauty
- Career & business
Although the last category would probably be your ‘go to’ when looking for networking opportunities, you shouldn’t write off the others.
A lot of the ways that we network is through hobbies and fun, not just ‘business.’ For example, connecting with other photographers could come through a nature walk meetup or an art talk instead of an event with photographers only.
Also, while you’re making new connections, Meetup will also help you accomplish some of your personal goals. Have you always wanted to learn to cook? Meetup has culinary events. Maybe you want to learn a new language so that you’ll have more of an edge at work. Meetup can facilitate this too.
Remember: networking should be fun. By making connections while doing things that you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to keep these relationships going and build them into something meaningful.
3) Volunteer your time
A third way to connect with others in your city is to volunteer your time.
Unlike networking events, volunteering as a way to help others is a natural process that allows you to bond with other people on a deeper level. Volunteering opportunities provide much more of a relaxed than networking events.
Like with hobbies, you’ll be able to connect with people through shared interests and passions instead of just business.
You’ll not only be helping an organization but also build contacts in various fields. This is an especially important networking tool if you’re trying to break into a different area.
This was the case with Jessica, an HR rep wanting to move into technology. She started volunteering at a local senior’s center where she taught visitors how to use tablets and computers. Because she liked spending time with older people and was tech savvy, the volunteer role was perfect for Jessica and didn’t feel like a chore.
Two weeks into her volunteer assignment, a department manager from a local tech company showed up with iPad donations for the center. After chatting with the man for a bit, Jessica learned that the company had several job openings that hadn’t yet been advertised. Jessica submitted her application online and with the manager’s permission, put his name down as a contact. A few weeks later, she was hired by the company.
There are tons of ways to find volunteering opportunities. There are online options that you can use:
What’s even more recommended is thinking about the answers to these three questions: What are you passionate about? What would you spend your time doing if money wasn’t an option? What world or community problem would you solve if you knew you wouldn’t fail?
Now take the answers to these questions and find an organization in your community that has a similar mission. Ask them if they need volunteers and if they don’t currently have a volunteer program, consider being the one to start it.
4) Start a group of your own
Which brings us to our fourth way to find networking opportunities in your city—create your own event.
If you’re from an urban area, there might not be a need for the starting of a new group. After all, there will be plenty of events to go to. But if you’re from a more rural place or somewhere that doesn’t have the type of networking organization that you’re looking for, you might consider branching out.
This is what Debra Rasberry did when she wanted to take her permanent makeup business, Total Transformations, to the next level. Because she’s from a small city in northern Louisiana, there weren’t very many entrepreneurial groups to connect with. Instead of driving hours to network or giving up,
Debra started Axen Club Monroe LA. This goals club provides unique networking opportunities, allowing Debra and her husband, James, to connect to like-minded individuals. It was also part of the boost Debra needed to introduce a therapeutic aspect (NLP) to her business model that wasn’t there before.
Finding great networking opportunities in your city shouldn’t feel like work. Whether you use social media, networking websites, volunteering opportunities, or launch your own group, the process of making new contacts and exchanging ideas should be focused on your and your passions. By embracing networking as an opportunity for growth and making rich connections, you’ll be able to launch your career and your interpersonal relationships further than you ever imagined.