Mel Kettle is a communications and social media consultant, speaker, blogger, educator, coach, bookworm, obsessive foodie and eatie, and a budding photographer. She blogs on marketing and social media at www.melkettle.com.au. Mel is passionate about working with organisations to show them how to communicate effectively so they can develop communities, share their stories and raise awareness. She particularly enjoys working with people who want to make a difference to other people’s lives. In her spare time Mel writes a food blog, The cook’s notebook.
I used to go to a lot of networking events – easily one or two a week. And then life got a little busy (that networking was paying off!), and I stopped.
While I do a huge amount of networking via Twitter, and have a lot of referrals come to me that way, I miss the face-to-face interactions that going to a networking event provides.
I’ve decided it’s time to crank up my networking again, and to at least go to one event a month. Maybe two. That’s easy, you think. There are loads to choose from. And yes, there are. However like many solopreneurs, my time is fairly precious, and I want to make sure that the networking events I go to are going to be relevant and help me achieve my goals – business and personal (and no, I’m not looking for a husband!).
How do you choose relevant events to go to, I hear you ask. Well, personally I go to networking events for a number of reasons:
- to hear a speaker who interests me
- to meet prospective clients
- to catch up with a number of friends/colleagues/business associates all at once (it’s far easier than arranging a lot of coffees!)
- to support a charity that I believe in – particularly if they are fundraising
- to support the organisers if they are clients, friends or starting out a new networking group that sounds interesting.
Most of these reasons are fairly self-explanatory. However I am often asked, “How do you know that prospective clients are going to be at the networking function you are going to?” There are a few ways to find out:
- trial and error – go to a couple and see what sort of people are also there (this can sometimes be a bit exxy in terms of time and money)
- go where your target market goes – one reason I go to events run by the International Association of Business Communicators is because other business owners go (and they are one of my target markets)
- ring the organiser and find out who has attended previous events – while they probably won’t give you names, they may give you some examples of professions and roles
- ask the Twitterverse if anyone has been, what they thought, and what type of people were there – the people who reply will also be a good indication of attendees.
How do you choose what networking events you go to? And what are your favourites? And do you like face-to-face networking or do you prefer to do it all via social media?