You can network at practically any event or activity, but a few types of events produce the best business networking results.
Events that are promoted as "networking" generally make it easy to meet a large number of people quickly, but they don't necessarily have the structure to help you create ongoing relationships.
This means that in addition to attending pure business networking events, consider joining organizations and groups compatible with your networking objectives.
Here are a few types of organizations that have events where you can meet other like-minded members:
- Chambers of Commerce
- Community service clubs
- Industry specific associations
- Professional associations
To find these organizations in your area check out these resources:
- Directory of Associations (www.marketingsource.com/associations/)
- Chamber of Commerce Locator (www.chamberofcommerce.com)
- National Association for the Self-Employed (www.nase.org)
- National Association of Women Business Owners (www.nawbo.org)
- Business and Professional Women's Association (www.bpwusa.org)
Here are organizations that are focused on business networking as their main activity and have networking events throughout the country:
Once you find a few local groups and organizations to join, be sure to volunteer for committees that can use your skills. Working with key committees within an organization gives you an opportunity to develop ongoing relationships. It also gives other members an opportunity to see the quality of your work, which can lead to them including you in business-related projects and activities.
While networking at business-related groups produces great results, also be open to networking opportunities at your more casual and fun groups. In addition, it’s great to volunteer at civic and social services organizations.
Here are Web sites that can help you find volunteer opportunities at non-profit organizations:
- VolunteerMatch (www.volunteermatch.org)
- Business Volunteers Unlimited (www.businessvolunteers.org/volunteer.htm)
Whether you join business, civic, social services groups – or a casual group of people who share your interests – you’ll find that getting involved in groups will give you plenty of good networking opportunities.