Whether you are looking for a new job, need new employees or just want to meet other professionals, networking is the way to go.
"Networking is an extremely important tool to advance your career," said Nancy Mellard, national leader of CBIZ Women's Advantage. "I speak about networking every time I'm working with emerging leaders or giving any kind of thought leadership presentation."
There are tons of networking events happening in your local area, but finding the right ones to attend can be a challenge. Luckily, there are multiple resources designed to make the search easier. Business News Daily spoke with career professionals and networking pros about the best way to find a networking event that is right for you.
Online networking sites and apps
In the digital age, countless websites and apps to help people connect are right at your fingertips. Here are some of the top networking and event sites:
- Meetup: Meetup is available in thousands of cities. A group can create a page on Meetup and advertise upcoming events or "meetups." You can find groups for Harry Potter fans, avid hikers, those who share your career interests or just about any other interests you can think of. It's a great tool to meet people in your city and find people with similar interests. Job seekers can search for industry events and networking opportunities.
- Eventbrite: Eventbrite's mission is to "bring the world together through live experiences." The site accomplishes this by allowing organizations to plan, promote and sell their events. Eventbrite is simple to use. Type in what you are looking for and in what city. It's great for job seekers looking for industry-specific events.
- Eventful: Eventful is very similar to Meetup. It's a digital media company that connects people to events they might be interested in. All you have to do is type in a location and keyword, and events pop up.
- Lanyrd: Lanyrd allows you to add events, discover conferences and track what events your contacts are attending so you know the best occasions to network.
Social media and search engines
Social media can be very helpful when you are looking for nearby events and networking opportunities. In Facebook's Events section, you can click "discover events" and search for gatherings by time, location and category. On Twitter, you can use the advanced search to look for a myriad of things such as dates, location and hashtags.
Naturally, Google is another great resource for networking events. You can easily find events by searching for specific phrases like "[where you live] job networking events" or "networking events near me."
Word of mouth
If you're overwhelmed by the information you find online, just ask around. Old colleagues, classmates, professors and friends likely know about networking events you would be interested in.
"Find others in transition and ask them," said Shannon Breuer, president at Wiley Group. "Typically, they have been in the job market for a while and have learned which type of events are worthwhile and which are not. It's also nice to get a networking buddy to not only help you with learning the ropes, but to encourage you when you might need a lift, and you can do the same for them."
Alec Sears, communication specialist for Frontier Communications, suggests finding key influencers in your industry and asking them for advice. "Find them on Twitter or LinkedIn and DM them," he said. "Explain that you're trying to build yourself up in the industry and ask if they know of any good conferences or events that you can attend. I promise you, 90 percent of the time, a professional will be happy to spend one minute helping you out."
Local community establishments
Sometimes searching for events the old-fashioned way works just fine. In many towns, the local chamber of commerce hosts events for local business owners and professionals.
Local churches and synagogues also hold weekly events that can be used as networking opportunities.
"One less-known way of finding networking events is through local churches and synagogues, even if you are a nonmember," Breuer told Business News Daily. "It's a comfortable way to build solid friendships and relationships.”
If all else fails, and you still aren't able to find a networking event that fits your needs, you can create the opportunities yourself, ideally attracting others looking for that type of event. Facebook and Meetup are great tools to create your own networking event and find those who may be interested in attending.