Table of Contents
- What is offline networking and why it is important
- How to identify events
- How to select events
- Tips for attending offline networking events
There is hardly any doubt that professional networking has paved the way to success for many professionals. However, most candidates focus on developing relationships and building their networks only online. Due to the pandemic, while online networking is the most feasible option, offline networking is an untapped territory. In this article, we will introduce you to the basics of offline networking to help you optimize your networking practices.
What is offline networking and why it is important
Using offline channels to network with people face-to-face is referred to as offline networking. While online networking is more convenient and time-efficient, offline networking has its own advantages. In this section, we will have a look at some of the reasons why offline networking is important.
a) Providing access to an untapped network
As mentioned earlier, offline networking is an unpopular means of networking. It allows you to reach a different audience, especially veterans who may not be actively involved in online activities. Furthermore, networking offline can introduce you to new opportunities which may not be found online.
b) Allowing for a stronger personal touch
While online networking done right can be a great means of creating relationships, it’s still not as personal as offline networking. Human relationships have always been influenced by face-to-face interactions, allowing people to develop stronger and better connections. As a job seeker, offline networking can be a great way to leverage the benefits of face-to-face interactions to get a competitive edge.
c) Increasing response rate
Offline networking provides a better rate of receiving responses from your target audience. Many times, online messages and requests can get ignored with all the online stimuli that fight for someone’s attention On the other hand, offline networking allows you to speak to someone in person, making it easier for them to focus on you. You can also easily identify your audience’s disinterest based on their body language and attitude, which can be more challenging online.
How to identify events
In this section, we will explore the various sources for identifying the right networking event for you.
a) Use LinkedIn
Whether it is an online or offline networking opportunity, LinkedIn is a great source of information. You can join groups like Network After Work – Business/Professional Networking Events, NYC Young Professionals – Networking Group or 100 Women in Finance (100WF) NextGen Groups to connect with the right people and be informed about the offline events happening around you. You can even keep a check on LinkedIn posts to identify relevant conferences and events. Additionally, you can connect with or follow your target audience, and attend any events organized by them.
b) Optimize Google search
“If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist”– well exactly! Use Google to optimize your job search and networking strategy. To find relevant events, Google queries like “Networking events around me” or use specific searches like “Finance conferences around me”. This will bring you all the required information in a few seconds.
c) Keep in touch with your university’s alumni network
Your university’s alumni groups can be a strong network. Many universities organize alumni events to reconnect with their students, giving them an opportunity to connect with each other as well. This is a great way to establish connections offline. People tend to respond to people with similar or the same backgrounds and interests. Make sure to allow the alumni team to stay connected with you.
d) Attend your company’s networking events
If your company organizes monthly or annual events, try to attend them even when they are not mandatory. This will give you a chance to interact with a diverse set of professionals working within and outside the company. It will expose you to relevant internal as well as external vacancies, giving you a pool of choices to choose from. We also suggest keeping a check on your company’s intranet to find events that may not be promoted at a large scale but could help you.
How to select events
Offline networking happens at events organized by institutions and companies. As a mid-career professional with an ongoing job, it may be challenging for you to attend multiple networking events. Thus, in this section, we will help you understand the criteria for selecting a networking event. When choosing a networking event, analyzing the type of participants and attendees is essential. This will allow you to understand if the event would add value to your networking strategy or not. Some factors that you should keep in mind are:
Some networking events are targeted at a particular audience. For example, some events are specifically designed for female professionals in the industry. Organizations like BYP Network host and connect black professionals from all around the globe and introduce them to new opportunities. Thus, it is important for you to understand if you are eligible for the event and if it would benefit you.
Some events are location-specific and only add value to local or non-local residents who are looking for opportunities in the region. For example, I.U.K.I LGBT+ Youth Network is a group that hosts events for professionals working on LGBT+ strategy in the UK and Ireland, along with a few additional locations from around the region. If you are a professional looking to relocate, such location-specific events would hardly add any value.
It is important for you to know if the networking event is domain-specific. For example, if you are a professional working in the finance domain, digital marketing events would be of no interest to you. While you can always meet new people at diverse conferences and networking events, it is important for you to evaluate if such an event will add value to your networking strategy.
d) Level of career
Being a mid-career professional, would you attend a networking event targeted at graduates and early-career professionals? At an event like this, you would have more scope to help others rather than expecting leads for your job search. Thus, before deciding to attend an event, it is essential to determine if it is for professionals at your career level.
Tips for attending offline networking events
a) Improve your online presence
It is a common tendency to go back home and look for people you just met online. Imagine creating a good impression in your face-to-face meeting only to get it ruined by a controversial post or comment you made years ago. Thus, it is important to make sure your digital footprints are clean. Let people only see what you want them to know professionally.
b) Carry business cards
Suppose you have spoken to a professional working with your target company. They are impressed by your profile and may consider you for an opportunity. How do they contact you after the event? Would you look for a paper and make them write your contact details on the spot?
While writing contact details on paper could be an option, let’s go for something easier and smooth. Carry your business cards and hand them over after your conversation. This is more convenient and professional. Of course, read the room and give it to them only if they are interested or directly ask you for it.
c) Be prepared with your elevator pitch
You should always be ready with your networking pitch. Think of yourself as your target audience and identify what they would want to know about you. Cover all of it in your pitch. Keep it short, simple, and quick. However, don’t force it on people and use it only when required.
d) Dress professionally
This goes without saying- dress professionally when you attend an offline event. However, professional attire does not always mean formal dressing. Choose the best outfit depending on your industry and domain, and go rock the event. Remember, your appearance and dressing style will create an impression on them. So, make sure to dress based on your personal brand and what makes you feel comfortable and confident.
e) Attend events to develop relationships
We understand looking for a job may be a priority for you right now but keep an open mind when attending such events. You may not always get leads on your job search but such events may be a great opportunity for you to establish relationships. These will help you in the long run. However, If you didn’t find what you are looking for at the event, do not burn any bridges.
Offline networking has a lot of scope to aid your networking strategy and job search as a whole. So, find the most relevant opportunities and attend networking events that can help you grow your network. If this is new to you and you are looking for assistance, we would be more than happy to help you.