With networking high season in full swing it can be difficult to pick which events to attend and which to pass on.
To help you select the most useful here's my Top 5 Tips for picking a networking event...
1. Timing's Everything. Picking an event that fits in with your life is really important, especially if an event you want to attend weekly or monthly. Networking should fit around your work and your personal life, not the other way around, so make sure the time works for you, otherwise you won't last very long or you'll end up resenting the event!
2. Why Bother? If you're going to take the time and the expense of attending an event, you need to think about the reason why you're bothering. Think about what you want to get from attending, i.e. make new contacts, learn something new, build on existing relationships. Make sure the event fits in with your goals for going along.
3. Comfort vs Chaos. Networking can be pretty scary at the best of times, so pushing yourself waaaaay out of your comfort zone might not be the best idea - especially if you're new to networking in general! With so many different formats of networking on offer, go for events that you feel reasonably comfortable with. (I say reasonably as it's important to push yourself a bit; just not so far that you'll end up not going when it comes down to it, or hate your life while you're there!)
4. Be Strategic. Knowing your target market is the first step to creating any strategy. Once you've know who you're looking to meet - either to potentially sell to, build collaborative relationships with or to learn from - then ensure the networking events you're attending will be the right place to find them. Know who you want to meet, then go to where they'll be - it's that simple.
5. Know Your Host. Getting to know the networking hosts is a massive step in the right direction. Finding out who's organising the events will help you find that right fit for you. Helpful, engaging and proactive networking hosts are invaluable and always worth building relationships with, so reach out and say 'hi' and see what happens. They'll usually tell you a lot about their events before you've even left your desk.
There you go! My Top 5 Tips for picking your networking events. I hope these help and you enjoy all the events you fill your diary with.