All networking events aren’t created equally. The demand for networking opportunities grows tremendously. It is fueled by high demand for sharing trade tips and exchanging referrals. On the flip side, it makes it harder for you to choose an event to attend.
Not to worry, we’ve got you covered! We have deconstructed the networking events to give you an insider look. Now you know what to expect.
The first and the most obvious separation is online and in-person events. There are advantages and disadvantages for both categories.
Online Networking Events:
|Access from anywhere via computer||Lack of one-to-one communication|
|Free or low cost to attend||Harder to allocate time from your day. Distraction in the office /home|
|International outreach||Can’t see who else is attending|
|Anyone can participate||Some sessions are pre-recorded and you can’t ask questions|
|Electronic materials/keynote recordings may be available for review later||Too dependent on technology (bad connections, loss of signal/sound)|
In-person Networking Events:
|Face-to-face time with the vendors and partners||Need to travel to a location (sometimes out of town/country)|
|Life keynotes with Q&A, personal time with the experts||Attendance can be pricey (sometimes up to several thousands of dollars)|
|Specific date/time allocated for the event||Attendees “hang-out” with colleagues or people they know|
In-person networking events are more popular, as the face-to-face aspect is the part of the appeal. These types of functions come in a ton of different shapes and sizes. They range from breakfast gatherings to Happy Hour drinks. It can be a Gala dinner and entertainment or a retreat on an Island. Imagination and the budget are the limits. Some larger trade shows and conventions, like CES in Las Vegas, include all of the above. You may start with a breakfast and a presentation, then face-to-face appointments and end with a dinner and a concert. Networking never really stops. Some long-term attendees confess that the best deals are actually made at the bar at 2 in the morning (practice at your own risk).
All in-person events fall into one of these categories.
The name speaks for itself. The networking event implies casual, low key setting, like a local bar. These are perfect starter events for beginner networkers to practice their skills. Relaxing atmosphere reduces the pressure and allows people to be themselves. It is very easy to connect and start a conversation. Please keep in mind, it is not a party. Maintain the level of alcohol at a minimum and avoid the topics that may be considered inappropriate (politics, religion, etc.).
These networking events are most beneficial for small business owners. Their goal is to grow business. It may be achieved by getting referrals, meeting clients, connecting with vendors or suppliers. You will be working on creating report and building relationships. That will lead to reaching a next comfort level for working together in the future. Hence, attention to details is important here, including proper attire (get pro-tips here).
There is no lack of corporate level events that offer networking opportunities for people within one particular industry. Examples are IFA Berlin for consumer electronics, Mobile World Congress for mobile industry or IPW for travel trade. Usually these are vast multi-day conventions, heavy filled with Business-to-Business appointments and seminars. You have the opportunity to meet the decision-makers, learn what’s new in the and have fun at the evening events. All surrounded by relevant people from the field. These events are usually costly. However, they bring the best people and the most current updates of the industry to one place. Definitely worth the expense.
Before committing to a particular function, make sure you have set clear goals. That will help you find an event that fits your needs and budget.