Some people love networking events, but others don’t relish the thought of leaving their cozy remote workspace to attend something social. Or maybe the idea sounds good, but you don’t see how it applies to yourself. Read on, and you will see who networking events are for, why they’re worth it, and why they are simply an- “opportunity in our midst!”
What are Networking Events?
- Networking events come in different forms. Some are simply social get-togethers based on a common topic. In my area, Padnug, is one such meetup based on gathering people in the tech community to get to know each other. It’s been active for years and led by a great bunch of folks in the tech community.
- Some networking events are based on learning, such as NewTech PDX, which meets once a month in Portland, OR, and has a variety of speakers who teach and inform.
- Other networking events are centered around a specific subject, such as AWS, or React. These events draw people who are either already involved with the topic or are expanding their knowledge and are interested in the theme.
Who are They For:
- ALL Human Beings. Whether you are an extrovert like me, or an introvert, people need people. Interaction is a basic human need just like food, water, exercise, and sleep. Helen Harris, on LinkedIn says, “People have an inherent need to gather, talk, exchange ideas and know that they have developed a “tribe” of sorts.”
- People looking for a job.
- People not looking for a job. There is value for networking at all stages of your career, and in some ways the best time to be proactive and go to events is when you aren’t looking for work. When you aren’t looking for work you are able to enjoy the event for its benefits without feeling the urgency you have when you are unemployed, and this gives you the confidence to meet people.
Why Should I go?
- Inspiration is one of the strongest reasons for going to events. You meet other people in your industry who are either doing what you are doing or what you hope to do, and it’s encouraging to connect. I attended an event sponsored by WIT (Women in Tech)) and it had a panel of women who were successful in their domains to inspire and encourage the participants. The women all had different stories, and it was extremely encouraging to hear how they responded to roadblocks, such things as Imposter Syndrome or discrimination, and didn’t give up. These events can help burgeoning ideas or be useful later for unique opportunities and links to other people down the road.
- Innovation: meeting people in other domains, from other backgrounds and industries different than your own, mixes up mindsets and ideas that result in a breeding ground for creativity.
- Learning is always a common denominator in networking events. They are one way that you can keep current on the latest technologies- and have some fun while you do it. I attended a meetup where one participant shared a code project with a senior engineer. Not only did this encourage this person’s learning, but it also took him out of his comfort zone, which built confidence for other engagements.
- Communication: Networking events are the perfect way to practice the skills needed for interviewing, or simply to build social skills that will further you in your career. Like the engineer who shared their project, there is no better way to build confidence than by speaking to someone you don’t know. I speak to people every day, but I still find it valuable to meet people at networking events and practice asking people their stories and sharing my own.
- Jobs: the truth is that networking remains the most effective way to get referred for jobs that aren’t advertised. According to Jobvite.com, 40% of hires come from referrals, and networking events are a great place to find them. I asked a group at Padnug what they thought was the value in networking events, and one of the participants told me that not only did he get a job through Padnug, but he hired people he met there.
- Ask people in your network if they have attended networking events and ask to join them.
- Meetup.com: use the search bar to find interesting topics and locations.
- Your college or graduate school
- Local organizations
There is great value in networking events, especially in a world that is becoming more and more remote and divided. My advice? Just put something on your calendar and do it- I think you will find that it’s worth it, and easier than you thought.
Need a buddy to go to an event with? Reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org , or any of my colleagues: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org