When it comes to building a business or finding new career opportunities, who you know can be the most important tool for growth. Networking is a necessity for making connections and establishing relationships with people in your industry. There are different ways to network, each with their own set of benefits and uses.
Traditional networking events. With a simple internet search, you can find plenty of networking events — held as frequently as every week — in your area. These traditional networking events usually take the form of a speaker or presentation with a meet and greet afterwards. These types of events are best for meeting new people, especially if you’ve just graduated and don’t know anyone in the industry.
Hosting your own event. If you are already established in your industry and want to make a few new connections or acquire new clients, host your own smaller networking event. Invite clients, business partners or former coworkers and perhaps ask them to invite a few people of their own. Plan an activity that your guests will enjoy. This can be attending a musical, going to a sporting event or even a wine tasting. Even if you don’t gain a new connection from the event, it’s still a great way to strengthen the connections you already have.
Double “dating.” A double “date” (not an actual date) in the business world has the same effect as hosting your own networking event, but on a smaller scale. If you have extra tickets to a show, invite a current client, connection, or strategic partner to go along with you. Ask them to bring someone they think you should meet and you’ll do the same. This is a great opportunity to make an ideal connection you may not have met otherwise.
Reconnecting. This strategy is meant for following up with connections you haven’t spoken with in a while, whether it’s a former professor, classmate or coworker. You and your current connections likely run in the same circles. Meeting up with old connections can be a great way to break out and meet people outside of your current network.