Written by: Dan McCarthy
You may not feel inclined to attend a networking event. After all, why waste an entire evening doing what you already conveniently do on social media? As it turns out, there is an element of in-person networking that could never be fulfilled through online mediums. Face-to-face interactions allows for a level of rapport that leads to stronger bonds and connections. If you are still skeptical, then we’ll outline some benefits of networking events and how you can get the most out of it.
1. Meet Key Influencers
Most attendees are hopeful career seekers like yourself. However, a handful are top figures in their industries looking to recruit industry prospects. It goes without saying that these influencers are bombarded daily with career and hiring inquiries. By being at the event in person, you have a chance to stand out far more than the people the influencers only interact with via email or social media.
If you happen to be the influencer, then you get to meet prospects that are more driven than the average online career seeker.
2. Increase Your Confidence
Because of social media, face-to-face interactions are becoming increasingly rare. While most people are perfectly comfortable expressing themselves on Twitter or other social networks, they severely lack that same confidence when engaging with people in person. This can hold you back in your career. In fact, 47 percent of professionals indicated they had lost an important contract or client due to not accommodating an in-person meeting into their schedule.
3. Make New Friends
Even if attending a networking event does not result in a new job or client lead, at the least you get to meet new people from different walks of life. You may even make new friends and go out for drinks after the event. These are real friendships and not merely Facebook friends. The typical Facebook user, by the way, has an average of 338 friends. Yet, very few of those are real friends that they ever meet in person, not even occasionally. You are more than your social media profile. Go out and meet people without the safety net of hiding behind a screen name.
4. Help Someone Else
Admittingly, attendees are primarily there for their own gains. After all, the professional field is a dog-eat-dog world. Your gain at a new job or client means a lost opportunity for someone else. Nevertheless, you can use the event to help out a fellow attendee. Surely, you’ll mingle with guests with career aspirations similar to your own. If you later speak to a recruiter or influencer looking for someone with qualifications of a guest you spoke with earlier, then be a pal and pass that person’s information along. There’s no need for an “it’s all about me” mindset.
5. Acquire Better Leads
You can get a far better reading of someone when interacting face-to-face. This is due to body language and mannerisms, which you have no way of gauging when reading an email or tweet. By starting in-person conversations, you can get a better idea whether this person is someone you want to continue a professional or personal relationship with after parting ways. You can just better tell if someone comes off as confident and competent in their line of work. You can filter everyone else out and focus on cultivating rapport with these people.
With networking benefits comes a host of new opportunities that just do not present themselves through traditional social media. You have nothing to lose by attending a live network gathering or even organize your own event in the future. Make the most of it and see what new doors may open to you.
Dan McCarthy is an event manager at Mask, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.