Not long ago I came across this fantastic article about how to make networking less daunting. One of the nuggets of wisdom I enjoyed the most was the suggestion to host your own networking event in order to make networking more palatable. So a couple of weeks ago I attempted to put the suggestion into action by, you guessed it, setting up my own networking happy hour.
So often we wonder where to meet people to network with that we overlook both, the existing network we have and added connections your current network can provide. All it takes is a “bring a friend” announcement to friends in order for 7 person invite to turn into 15 people showing up to chat about life or business.
So, how did I do it? Here’s good list of suggestions on how to create your own networking event:
1) Meetup: Meetup.com is one of my absolute favorite websites for advancing your networking. I like to use it in two ways when it comes to creating your own networking event. The more advanced way is to simply create your own meet up from scratch. Maybe you want to create a meet up for anyone on the site to peruse around a topic you find interesting. Are you a fan of the most recent Malcolm Gladwell book? Are you interested in meeting others who follow the same lean startup principles? Tell a couple of confidants that you want to start a meet up and you would like their support by attending. Then, create an event, and see what happens. A less advanced way to use the platform, incase you don’t want to set up your own event, is to find an interesting meet up and send an a-mail or text to 3-5, 7-10 other people who may have interest in joining you at an already established meet up. You’ll have friendly faces close by and they will thank you for finding a good opportunity to join up with.
2) Facebook: Facebook has a great feature that you probably know about. You can actually create an event. So the social media platform most people have a profile on (even if you don’t use it often), is the same one that makes it fantastically easy to create a networking event. Go ahead and look at your personal calendar. Block of a Thursday (best networking happy hour days) and set up a 5-7 event at your favorite venue and then just click on your friends to invite. And make sure you leave to option for allowing friends to invite their own friends.
3) Calendar invites: I use a computer based calendar system. No pen and paper here. And the thing is, most other people do to. The last happy hour I hosted came about when I noticed I had a friend coming into town and I titled a calendar event, on a Thursday, 5-7 with “_____ is in town. Meet my friend and bring one of your own.” It may seem simple and may not even seem like it could be a successful networking strategy. But wouldn’t you know? I gained a new law firm client, another friend found a new investor to pitch for his startup, and heck, I think two folks fell in love. Never underestimate what a well timed calendar invite will bring out of the woodwork.
So, when in doubt on where to network, don’t be afraid to take action and create your own networking opportunity. And have fun!