15 Best Places to Network for CEOs and Entrepreneursby Oudraa S
Networking is a buzzword many are familiar with. Many successful business owners and entrepreneurs alike swear by it, and regularly encourage its practice. Networking is a great tool that can be used to boost your reputation and career advancements on a daily basis.
The key is knowing where to network and who to connect with in order to make your time worthwhile. Read on to find out the 15 best places to network from wherever you are!
What is Networking?Networking is the action or process of meeting and interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional relationships. A person will typically network with other individuals that are in the same or similar industry as them to widen their chances of meeting the right person and coming across a great opportunity.
The purpose of networking is to build connections with like-minded individuals and also broaden your insight and perspective in the field you are either working in or attempting to enter. Networking is an invaluable tool and a lot of the time, it’s free to do! Whether you go to a large event or meet someone for coffee, it is still considered networking as long as the intended purpose is fulfilled.
Benefits of NetworkingThere are many benefits associated with networking. These benefits include:
Practicing your communication skills: Meeting someone for the first time can be anxiety-inducing. You may feel uncomfortable approaching an individual and striking up a conversation. As you begin to network more regularly, you will likely develop and hone your communication skills. You’ll learn how to speak to people and lead conversations in the right direction.
Being an effective communicator is an important skill to have as a boss or entrepreneur so why not use networking to perfect it? Your comfort level will likely increase with the more networking opportunities you attend and eventually, you’ll be able to discuss your professional needs and wants openly.
Finding a job: Many people have found jobs through networking so you shouldn’t count yourself out here! Networking is great because you get to meet people in similar fields or a field you are hoping to enter. Many recruiters attend networking events because they know that many attendees will already have an interest in the field/job they are recruiting for.
If you are attending a networking event and are looking for a job, always have a business card or resume readily available so that you can immediately provide it to an interested individual. Even if you don’t encounter a recruiter, you may meet someone who knows another person that is looking to hire or start a business with a partner. The opportunities are endless.
Get tailored career advice: Just because you don’t have experience in a certain realm, it doesn’t mean others are not willing to help or provide you with direction. If you see someone working in a field you love, reach out to them! They may be able to provide you with great insight into the role, the career trajectory, and what you can expect on a day-to-day basis.
By building this relationship and line of communication, you also make a good impression on an individual. They could become your mentor or think of you first when there is an opportunity available. The advice people in your interested field provide could also help you realize that you do or don’t want to continuing pursuing that career. This could save you a lot of time and money.
Help others: When people speak about networking, it is generally very personal and individualized. However, people also choose to network to help others as well. You may be established in your career and looking to assist or recruit others.
By networking, you can get a feel for individuals who may be interested and willing to join your team. This experience can also be very rewarding since you are helping people who are searching for opportunities.
- Change in career: The thought of changing careers can be daunting. Where do you begin? Will anyone hire you? What is the competition like? These are questions that can be answered through networking. By speaking to other individuals that are also searching or have established roles at an organization you’re considering, you can get answers to your questions and develop that rapport. By talking to individuals already in your desired field may also put you at ease and give you that push to really go towards what you want!
Now that you know some of the benefits of networking, let’s take a look at where you can actually start your networking journey. Networking used to be reserved for in-person events but now that social media has taken over, there are countless online spaces you can engage in networking as well. Below are the 15 best places to network:
1. Job Fairs
Job fairs are an excellent place to network. Since job fairs specifically deal with employment, you will encounter individuals that can offer positions or ones that a looking for said positions. Whether you are hunting for a job or offering one, this is a great place to network and meet a variety of individuals. As a job seeker, you’ll have the opportunity to speak directly with organizations and get a sense of what they are offering.
You can also build a personal connection and leave a memorable impression on the organization’s representative/recruiter. You can also meet other individuals that are looking for similar positions and bounce ideas off of each other. They may steer you in the direction of another available opportunity they came across.
As someone looking to hire, you can network with potential candidates and find out what kind of position they are looking for. You can also stand out by actually being present to meet potential hires, making them feel welcomed and more interested in working for you. Job fairs will also help you take stock of who is actually interested in your company
2. Alumni Events
How many people graduate, run out of school, and never look back? You may want to turn around! Alumni events are unique in the sense that they can help both new and old graduates. Education is something that has brought many people together – people meet their best friends, business partners, spouses, and mentors in school. Alumni events specifically cater to graduated individuals so you can go into them knowing that the individuals present are in the same or similar field as you.
You can use these events as opportunities to find out where other people in your field are working and how they are faring. You may also encounter people that are running their own business and looking to hire. Going to alumni events also help break the ice because you can immediately strike up a conversation about your school, program, mascot, or even favorite professor. Many schools hold alumni events regularly throughout the year so make sure you are subscribed to your school mailing list.
3. Family & FriendsFamily and friends are a great way to network! There is an added comfort that comes with networking through family and friends because you can generally trust their recommendations. They may know someone that is hiring or looking to work and put you in contact with them. Many jobs currently offer referral incentives so your chances of being contacted greatly increase if a family member or friend recommends you to their HR department.
Since there’ll likely be a closer connection, your family and friends will give you honest reviews when talking about companies or individuals you’re interested in engaging with. Always keep family members and friends informed if you are hiring or looking for a new job as they could be the connection you need! The next time you’re thinking of skipping that family reunion, consider going – you could be one step closer to nabbing your dream job or dream candidate.
4. Social MediaSocial media has received a lot of negative attention lately due to the effects on our mental health, productivity, self-esteem, and desensitization. However, when used correctly, social media can be really beneficial. Networking via social media is a tried-and-true way to get yourself out there and connect with people. For example, LinkedIn was specifically created to help working professionals connect.
You can use LinkedIn to find jobs, message recruiters, find networking events and more. If you’re looking for a job for example, you can see if a HR member from that job is online and send them your resume directly. This could put you ahead of the pack and allow the recruiter to view your profile faster. You can also post statuses that you’re hiring or looking for a position. You never know who will see it and reach out. Using social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can also have the same effect.
You can build rapport and message someone directly for more information. Although Indeed is seen as a site solely used to job search, they have a great messaging feature that allows recruiters to message you directly. This could help speed up the hiring process and again, help you build rapport. Lastly, believe it or not, apps like TikTok, Bumble, and Hinge can also help you in your networking endeavours!
People are people – whether they’re looking to be entertained or find a relationship, they will all likely still have a job or need one. You can use these apps to connect with other people through comments and conversations. You never know who could help you form those connections and begin to build!
5. Professional AssociationsProfessional associations are a great way to network because you are surrounded by other professionals in the same field as you. By joining an association, you will have access to specific events, webinars, and opportunities that non-association members do not.
Within an association, you can connect with people who share similar interests and work experiences. You can gain valuable advice from them and also find out if they can assist you in your job search. Even if you’re simply forming a working relationship with someone, this could prove to be incredibly valuable in the future.
Many associations also typically charge a member fee so once you join, you know that you are interacting with other people who paid to be there and will likely want to connect with you. Professional associations can also have member-only job postings which could give you leverage, and a head start when seeking available positions.
Conferences are another great way to interact and network with other professionals. Since conferences are held both locally and internationally, attending either gives you a chance to meet people in your vicinity or on a global scale.
Professionals from other towns or countries may be able to offer unique insight into how a company operates in a different location. This could be helpful when deciding if you want to work for a company on a global scale.
Attending professional development classes puts you in the same room as individuals that are interested in the opportunities. They are trying to further develop their skills in a certain area, and this could be an indication that they’re seeking expertise in a job area.
7. Professional Development Classes
By networking with them, you’ll be able get information regarding where they work, what they do and how the enrolled course will help them in their field. Professional development courses usually house individuals that already have a certain level of experience, which is also helpful when connecting and discussing job prospects.
8. Volunteering & Charity EventsBy attending charity events or volunteering, you are tapping into qualities you exude aside from professionalism. You are networking while helping a cause that you care about. Here, you will meet like-minded individuals that will be supporting the same cause. Instantly, you’ll have something in common and share that connection.
Aside from feeling rewarded by helping people, you will also be showing your work ethic and values by serving others. This will leave a great impression on others and may be what someone is looking for in a partner or employee. Volunteering or attending charity events will also help you develop your communication skills because you will be interacting with other volunteers and/or attendees.
9. Current JobYou’ll want to tread lightly and tactfully here, but networking at your current job is also a good option. If you’ve already built rapport and friendships with your colleagues, you can talk to them about job opportunities you’re interested in or your desired career trajectory. Like your family and friends, they may also know of someone hiring and connect you with them.
If you trust your manager and have a good relationship with them, they may also be a great resource to network with. They could put you in communication with people that can help you, or also recommend you for a higher position you have been vying for. Just remember to always be mindful of your surroundings and respectful before discussing your career goals and aspirations with others.
10. Social EventsEven though you’re there to have fun, who says you can’t network at a wedding or baby shower? People come from all walks of life and will likely meet at this type of event. Attendees at these types of celebrations may know someone and put you in contact with them. The opportunity to network here is heightened because if you’re seated next to a guest you don’t know, you will likely engage in small talk regardless and start to find out certain things about them.
Your discussion could turn towards your professional career and a connection could take off from there. Moreover, since you’re attending a social event, it can be expected that some if not most attendees will be willing to have a conversation with you.
11. Networking EventsNetworking events are a gold mine! They are created specifically for individuals to network so you can go in there and be incredibly direct. You can feel comfortable having a conversation with someone and offering your business card, portfolio, or resume right away because it is already expected. At networking events, you can meet a plethora of people from different organizations depending on the type of event you attend.
There is an added benefit of knowing you’re in the company of like-minded individuals with similar intentions so it will be easier to connect or at least start a conversation. Networking events will of course give you the chance to meet people, connect with some that you already know in the industry and also scope out new opportunities.
12. Waiting in LineThis one may seem random but don’t dismiss it just yet! There are people who have gotten a job or the opportunity of a lifetime just by standing in line and meeting someone.
Whether you connect on how delicious the pastries are or how long the wait is, this connection could segway into something deeper. If you’re someone that carries around their business card, this could also be the perfect opportunity to hand it over and see what comes of it.
13. The Coffee ShopSimilar to waiting in line, a coffee shop is also a hidden gem for networking. Some may be there to study but others may just be there to socialize.
You can strike up a conversation with someone if they’re open to it and begin to network. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation either – short and sweet will still do the job. You may even end up gaining a coffee buddy in the process!
14. The Gym
Even though individuals are there to exercise, there are still opportunities to network at the gym. Whether it’s on the actual floor or in the change rooms, you can start a conversation with someone and go from there. You already share a common interest in exercising, and you can use that as your starting point to converse.
The gym is also great because if you attend regularly, you will likely see other regulars and continue to build that rapport. Unlike other places to network that feel more like one-time opportunities, you could meet someone at the gym and hear about an opportunity months later simply because you’re on the treadmill next to them. Don’t cancel your membership just yet!
Lastly, Eventbrite is a great tool to use when networking. Eventbrite is a site that provides information on upcoming events in various cities and online. Many people put their event on the site and then you are able to purchase tickets (for charge or free) and attend.
Eventbrite is good to use because many individuals host tailored events and workshops that could fall into your targeted niche. By attending an event like this, you already know that attendees will share the same interests. You can easily use this to your advantage and further connect.
In all, networking is an amazing tool to use when trying to connect with individuals and advance yourself professionally. You may even find yourself advancing personally through the connections you make. People are everywhere and by virtue of that fact, networking opportunities can be found everywhere as well.
This blog highlights the 15 best places to network and build great working relationships. Where are your favorite places to network? Where have you been successful? Comment down below!
Check out some of our entrepreneur-inspired hats & mugs!