Networking has always been one of the most important tools for the successful growth of businesses. Basically, the more people you know, the more people will be aware of your product or service. Digital technology has made the act of networking quite simple, as you can now connect with people just by pushing a button. This doesn’t make the networking experience memorable, though, and you can run the risk of being just another connection on someone’s ‘Friends’ list. Meeting a person in real life will make you much more memorable, as they will have heard your voice, seen your mannerisms, and interacted with you.
It can be difficult to know where to find people who share your interests, in the real world, unless you are attending specific event. This is where Meetup presents itself as one of the most valuable networking resources available. By facilitating the organisation of specifically themed groups, Meetup provides you with the opportunity to meet people who are interested in exactly the same thing as you, and who actively want to socialise.
Make the most of your Meetup experience with these 6 handy tips.
1. Find social meetups as well as business ones
To make your network as diverse as possible, try not to limit yourself to groups that just focus on your profession. A good rule of thumb is: For each business Meetup you join, you should also join a social one that you feel passionate about. No matter what the group is focused on, you are broadening your network simply by attending and socialising. You never know who could be the catalyst for your business growth down the track, or where you will find them.
2. Go more than once
Almost everyone feels a bit nervous at their first Meetup. It’s to be expected when you’re encountering a group of strangers for the first time. Don’t let this stop you attending again though! Next time you go, you’ll recognise some of the faces, and the time after that, you might start feeling more comfortable within the group. If you’re passionate about the group you’re joining, you will get to a point where you feel like you fit in.
3. Don’t JUST talk business
Even if the group your attending is focused heavily on business, don’t make that the only topic of conversation. Be yourself, and share your personality with your fellow attendees. Feel free to make jokes, and talk about things that are a little off topic, as this will help other people get to know you better. Business networking events have the potential to be very dry and serious, but they really don’t need to be.
4. Be memorable
This tip isn’t for everyone, especially shy people, but it can certainly help to grow your network. If you can find a way to stand out in your Meetup group, you should do it. Try to keep it appropriate and non-offensive, of course, but try and make yourself be seen. You could wear something bright, be quick to share anecdotes, or bring along some cookies. No matter what you do, your intention should be to stay in people’s minds after the event has concluded.
5. Keep in touch
This is the simplest but perhaps the most important tip in any social situation, either online or in real life. If you can forge an ongoing relationship with someone, they will be a much more valuable addition to your network than someone you’ve only met once, and can barely remember. Be generous with your network, if possible, by making yourself available to them if they require your expertise. Being friendly and helpful will get you much further than just being a business contact.
6. If you can’t find one that you love, start your own!
One of the great things about Meetup is the almost endless potential for diversity. If you are struggling to find a group that suits your needs and interests, you could consider hosting your own group. The added benefit here is that by being the host, you are establishing yourself as a proactive expert within your industry, who is actively working on building a network of like-minded people.
The bottom line, in regard to successful networking, is that you just need to put yourself out there. This has always been the case, and it always will be. Meetup provides an excellent platform to facilitate this, but can’t do the work for you. Make sure you take all the opportunities presented to you within your groups, and above all else, enjoy yourself!