If you are not familiar with the term, a networking event is an opportunity to meet people with common interests. During a networking event you can meet a future friend, a potential client or collaborator, your future associate, or maybe just have a stimulating and inspiring talk with someone while drinking a glass of wine.
Then, where to start?
Meetup is the platform I use the most. It allows people with shared interests to plan events and group meetings in diverse locations around the world. You can find almost anything you can imagine, from women’s groups to special interest groups on the environment, entrepreneurship or almost any other topic.
Eventbrite is an amazing event-organizing platform. You can search events by theme, category, city and date, and easily pay online when it’s required. It’s the platform I use to find professional courses and workshops. At the end there is usually time for networking so it’s an interesting combination of learning and exchanging.
Facebook is a great tool to find community events. Follow your favorite people, brand, group and community in order to receive information about their upcoming events. Some of these events are public while others are private. Once you start accepting events invitations, FB starts proposing you events on similar subjects. I love the calendar feature, which allows you to see your confirmed events clearly and in chronological order as well as other events’ suggestions for the coming weeks.
If you want to learn and improve your public speaking skills while meeting great people at the same time, Toastmasters is the platform for you. I’ve attended two meetings as a guest. The ambiance is welcoming and relaxed, and if you are not a native English speaker is ok. People are not there to judge but to support you.
Internations is a global platform for expats and it allows you to search people by nationality or interests, to contact them internally, and to attend varied thematic events. While I don’t often attend their events, I’ve made interesting contacts through their platform.
Your embassy or consulate
They often hold cultural events throughout the year. Just sign up to their newsletter.
The chamber of commerce
They might organize interesting workshops and business-networking events. Worth to find out.
Topic specific, so you can find the most relevant ones. A networking cocktail sometimes follows them. If so, stay! That’s the prime networking time.
- Some of these events are free and others aren’t, so don’t hesitate to ask the organizer or look on the website ahead of time to avoid any surprises.
- If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can create a group yourself. Every platform has its specific requirements.
- Target your groups and be patient. Sometimes it takes time to find the right ones for you.
- Follow up and follow through. If you told someone you’d get in touch with him or her, do it.
- Having the right attitude. Networking events are a great place to exchange and your attitude will determine what you get from them. If you run from person to another only exchanging business cards (I’ve seen this), you will likely come back home with a lot of cards and zero real connections. On the other hand, if you are natural and open, take the time to have quality conversations with the people you meet, and go with a positive energy you will obtain the best results.
Personally, I love networking and always attend with one idea on my mind: to have a great time and to connect with positive people. Believe me, I’m never disappointed!