When I first relocated to Charleston, SC, I knew I needed to get out start networking for my business, but I didn’t know where to start. I’m going to share with you what I wish I had known then. So here are my top 5 resources and websites to help you find local networking events!
Find Networking Events in Your City
Meetup is basically the social network for local events and recurring meetups. On there you’ll find a ton of free events, as well as some paid events too.
To get started, first create an account, then click the “Explore” tab to search for events by category. And it’s not just for business networking–you’ll find meetups for working out, playing board games, and much more. What I really like about this site (and its correlating mobile app) is you can see the people who are attending the event ahead of time. This can be a huge help if you want to make the most out of your time and determine who you’d like to connect with ahead of time.
2. Facebook Events
I’m sure you’ve RSVPed to many of your friend’s events on Facebook, but what you may not know is that Facebook has an explore feature similar to what they have on Meetup.
On the lefthand column of your newsfeed, click the “Events” tab. As you would expect, you’ll see the events that they’ve been invited to, but in the right column of that page is where you can discover events in your area. You can browse by date, and you can also browse by category. They even have a specific category for Networking.
Eventbrite, in my experience, seems to have more paid events on it, but there are definitely free ones as well. Go to “Browse Events”, “Choose Your City”, then scroll down to the “Business & Professional” category to start browsing.
4. Your Local Chamber of Commerce
You might try connecting with your local Chamber of Commerce. Now every area is different – some Chamber of Commerce’s are more active than others. Here in the Charleston, SC area, we’re blessed to have very active Chambers that hosts events just about every week.
I recommend getting in contact with yours, and ask them about events they may be hosting. If they have an email list, go and subscribe so you can get updated about new events.
Some Chambers of Commerce may require you to join the Chamber before you may attend their events. If you’re not sure if you want to join right away, look to see if they have any free member-mixers that will allow you to learn about it before committing.
5. BNI (or other referral groups)
BNI has local referral groups all over the country. Referral groups like these often have a membership fee as well as strict rules about attendance and how many people you must refer business to. However, the benefit of this sort of networking meeting is you have a group of fellow business owners that are committed to referring business to each other. This can be a great way to generate leads for your business, but it may not be for everybody.
In most cases, BNI groups will allow you to attend once or twice for free, so at least take advantage if that – you may meet someone who needs your services!
How do you find networking events in your city? Let us know by commenting below!