Importance of Networking Events
Importance of Networking Events
We define networking events as those hosted by an organization for the purpose of bringing together a large number of people to network. Networking events are on the opposite end of the spectrum from networking meetings in that networking events are a perfect place to meet many people and establish new relationships. In contrast, networking meetings are an ideal place to meet one or a couple of people to build deeper relationships. Networking events are primarily for connecting with many new people that you don’t know (although you may also see some people you already know), whereas networking meetings are for connecting with people you already know.
There is a common misconception that the sole purpose of networking events is to meet new people. While this is the primary focus, a couple of other key benefits of networking events make them worthy endeavors everyone should attend. Let’s explore the benefits.
Making New Connections
Most obviously, networking events are the perfect place to meet new connections. When you go to a networking event, you will be surrounded by anywhere from 20 to hundreds of people who have some sort of shared interest. Automatically, this gives you something in common with everyone at the event, making it easier to connect with people as you already have a starting place. If you are newer to networking or do not already have a strong network, attending a networking event is an excellent way to meet many people and build out your network relatively efficiently. Networking events are one of the best tools for building your network quickly. The focus should generally be on meeting many new people, exchanging contact information, and setting follow-up networking meetings with those you clicked with.
If you already have a network established, it is still important for you to attend networking events. You may be more focused on strengthening your network through networking meetings and other activities, but you should always be building your network to some degree. Most obviously, it can’t hurt to meet new people and find new opportunities. But more importantly, your network is constantly changing with new people coming into your network and others leaving. Over time, people move, retire, and change careers, and some will inevitably drop out of your network. Without meeting new people, your network will eventually start to shrink over time, so even if you have an established network, networking events are a great way to ensure your network is always maintaining its size or growing.
Seeing Existing Connections
As good as networking events are for making new connections, they are also a great way to maintain and build your relationships with existing connections. Especially if you go to events hosted by the same organizations, you’ll begin to know more and more people at networking events. While networking events should be focused on meeting new people, they provide a great opportunity for you to get quick touch points with a good number of your other connections. Remember, relationship building takes consistent touch points over time, so the more times you can connect with someone, the faster your relationship will grow. If you can say hi and briefly touch base with existing connections at networking events, you absolutely should. It will help your relationships strengthen with very little time commitment from your end. This shouldn’t be the only way you connect with these people; you should still be having networking meetings with them to build deeper relationships, but it is still a good way to check-in and stay front of mind.
Building Your Personal Brand
Tying into the concept of seeing your existing connections, attending networking events is a good way to establish part of your personal brand. If you attend events from the same organizations, again and again, you will become much more known within that community. Other people who frequent those events will come to know you as a key part of that community. You will also likely open doors for opportunities like speaking at events, moderating, or participating in other ways that can help you establish your personal brand within that community.
Networking events allow you to meet many new people in a short amount of time, making them one of the most effective tools for building your network. They can also provide a forum for you to get extra touch points with your existing contacts and help you establish a personal brand. Thus, there is a reason for everyone to attend networking events regardless of network size or networking experience.