Because of the nature of my business, I spend the vast majority of my day on the computer. If I’m not on the computer, I’m on the phone explaining to a potential customer how my company can provide them with value. Some days this can mean I spend 12-15 hours at my desk. As this is important to get work done, I think that entrepreneurs, more specifically those with online or tech businesses, underestimate the importance of getting out of the office and networking.
I was also a victim to this mentality as well; however, I have begun venturing out more. You really have no idea how much networking with people can provide you with new leads, new business strategies and perspectives, or simply a new contact. You never know who you will meet. Get out there and open yourself up to possibilities. Here are eight great resources to check out to find great networking opportunities that are relevant to you or your business:
MeetUp.com is a great place to find local networking events in your area. You can find out what events other people are attending and find events that interest you. The website is extremely easy to use and is gaining in popularity, which increases the number of events that will be listed. I definitely recommend trying MeetUp at least once. I am confident that you will enjoy it.
2. Local Chamber of Commerce
As I have mentioned in previous posts, your local chamber of commerce can be an amazing resource for you and your small business. Your local chamber will most likely host a variety of networking events for businesses, and they will also probably have a calendar of events of additional networking opportunities. Most are either free or fairly cheap for members and non-members alike.
NetParty.com is where social networking meets business professionals. Similar to MeetUp, NetParty displays networking events that are occurring in your city. What is ideal about NetParty is the fact that this site is dedicated to networking for business professionals, while competing sites like MeetUp are for a variety of interests.
Created to facilitate listings of a variety of events and ticket sales, Eventbrite.com can also be a great tool for business networking. Because of the volume of users and information, this site generates a large following that can lead to events with a larger attendance. Eventbrite is not as focused on business networking, and therefore should not be your first choice. However, it does serve as a great resource to find networking events.
Statistics show that you probably already have a Facebook account and you probably spend a significant amount of time on it. Therefore, why not search business networking events on Facebook. Simply by searching through the “Events” link, or finding out what events your friends are going to, you can easily learn of great networking opportunities.
The “Local” or “Lifestyle” section of your newspaper probably lists a calendar of events for your area. Find business networking events in your area and get to know local business professionals. Because of the vast readership of most newspapers, you can be confident that most events will have a large attendance.
You may have not known it, but LinkedIn.com can also be a great resource for networking events. Since the social network is dedicated to business professionals, the “Events” link (located under “More” at the top) provides a variety of events that are occurring in your industry. Refine the results by entering your city. What better place to meet business professionals than an event listed on the social networking site dedicated to business professionals?
8. Industry Publications & Journals
If you subscribe to an industry publication, this can be an amazing resource to find out the what’s and when’s of networking events of your industry. At some point, there may be an event in your area. These opportunities can yield you networking events that allow you to interact with people who are closely related to your profession. If you don’t currently subscribe to any industry publications, you should begin doing so.
There are a variety of ways that you can find out about business networking events that are occurring in your area. If you exhaust this list and still can’t find a relevant or appropriate networking event, there is only one thing left to do. Start your own! Come up with a great event tagline, location, time and date, and get out there and market it. Use every resource listed on this page to promote it. I wish you the best of luck. Let me know how it goes. If you have any comments, or if I have neglected to mention a great resource, please post it in the comment section below.