How To Grow Your Professional Network: Best Forums, Meetups, and Events To Join
Before we talk about how to grow your professional network,here are some things to know about.Once you get your head around what is involved in producing high-quality content and all those technical bits and bobs that go along with it, you should start thinking about how you want to promote your blog.
Networking and building your contact book is a good way to start. Realistically speaking, with no money to spend on promotion your audience as well as the existing network could be used as a promotional medium. You could start a process of building your audience/network online. Usually, discussion forums are a good place to take off.
Do your research and find a few forums that are dedicated to the area of your interest. You can either start a new conversation thread on the forum or if you feel you need to get a better sense of what the specific forum is about, begin with replying to other members’ posts.
An important rule that applies to discussion forums is a core purpose of their existence is to help other members.
Thus do not try to be pushy or salesy. It won’t go down well and you might get banned. Instead, be helpful and respond to questions you have answers for knowledgeably and accurately, it will show you are an expert in your area and other members should look out for your posts and advice.
Online Forums Worth Checking Out
1. Digital Spy Forum
If you are into digital, TV and films, that’s a perfect forum for you. You can participate in discussions about the latest new technology news as well as comment on the newest blockbusters or TV shows. If your blog concentrates around those topics, you might want to consider signing up for this forum and starting networking here.
2. Cosmopolitan Fashion and Style Forum
If fashion and beauty is something that floats your boat, Cosmopolitan forum may be a good place to start. It is a forum managed by a well-known magazine with a media exposure on a significant scale; therefore you will find a variety of potential audience segments – from teenagers to mid-twenties high street fashion lovers to even late thirties professional women.
You will have a broad range of various topics discussed; hence a greater chance to find your niche. However, if you want to concentrate your efforts on targeting the audience with greater spending power, then you could try a forum on Vogue magazine website. Also, a forum devoted to ethical fashion is an interesting place to have a ‘rummage’ through.
3. Financial Wisdom Forum
If you are a master of Excel and there is no complex calculation that would scare you and you even want to write about, this financial forum was created especially for people like you to shine bright and help others less aware of all mysterious financial tricks.
Assist other members with their financial questions and build your authority in this field. If you find the right moment, recommend your blog for a more extensive read about financial issues.
4. New IT Forum
For all IT gurus willing to share their valuable knowledge with those less skilled at computing and new technologies, this IT forum can be a good starting point. Your helpful advice can build you a network of loyal followers that look up to you for helpful advice and the latest gossip from the world of IT.
In the current world of new technology online blends with daily life on multiple levels. Therefore, it is natural that your networking might start online and move to a face-to-face stage or vice versa. Let’s consider the first scenario.
Personally, I think beginning with some kind of meet-up website could give you a kick start. There are plenty of websites you could try – some of those more interest or location specific than others (e.g. Geek Girls or Tech Meetup ).
However, I would recommend to check out Meetup.com first as it is by far the most popular and extensive source of all types of meet-ups for all kinds of interests and purposes.
While signing up to the app, you can select your areas of interest and then it will automatically suggest groups within that spectrum. The result will be based on your location as well.
Once you’ve decided which groups you should join, attend a few different meetups and try to network with other attendees. Usually, each meetup has a short networking session which is dedicated to this purpose.
When you’re comfortable and could ask to present at one of the sessions or just to have a 5-minutes elevator pitch at the end of the meet-up. Also, make sure you share your thoughts and any updates post-event so people won’t forget about you.
Meetups Worth Checking Out (London-based)
Although these meetups are London based, they occasionally host in other states and countries.
1. Fashion Law & Business
A group for anyone interested in fashion law, and launching or managing a brand in the fashion industry. The aim of this group is to connect their members to the world of business, law, and fashion and to help emerging designers and fashion professionals understand the basics of fashion law giving you solid insight into the legal issues to consider when starting or managing a fashion business.
2. London Enterprise Technology
This group aims to promote early stage technology companies, supporting entrepreneurs, educating companies on how to work with enterprises, and creating an environment where entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses can all network and learn from one another.
3. The Food Crowdfunding Club
This is an ideal option for anyone who has an existing pop-up restaurant/supper club or someone who is thinking about starting a food business in London. It is for innovators, forward thinkers and people who look beyond the shackles of old world economics and want to embrace the 2.0 web.
4. The Four Hour Working Week Meetup
This meetup is for people interested in, seeking motivation and inspiration to begin or for those already living the 4HWW dream with their muse ticking away in the background. Moreover, you can always network during events or exhibitions and then get the people you’ve met to visit your blog.
Do your research and make a list of the events/exhibitions that are relevant to your area. Choose a few you think are best to attend. Beforehand, however, make sure you will get some background information on the organizers and event itself checked.
Usually, you can access a list of exhibitors before the event. It will help you to see if there are any people, in particular, you would like to talk to. Furthermore, do not forget to make some preparations before the event. Ensure you have your business cards ready to hand into people you will be talking to.
Also, you might want to think about what topics you would like to discuss with specific people. You just don’t want your mind to go blank when you are talking to someone important. Rehearse what you want to say before the event. A word of warning – do not try to distribute your leaflets/promotional materials at the event if you are not an exhibitor. You might get kicked out!
Here is a list of events you might be interested in (they are all London-specific)
Events Worth Checking Out
1. Marketing Week Live
It is a great free event for all marketers and people interested in marketing. With a wide range of seminars and an even broader range of exhibitors, MWL is one of the most important marketing events in the UK. If you want to attend seminars with speakers working for ‘big players’ like Starbuck’s, Tesco, or Salesforce, then it will suit you perfectly. Plus, you get a chance to network with marketers from a variety of sectors and backgrounds.
2. Technology for Marketing & Advertising
It is a significant size event for all working or keen to pursue a career in digital. Again, similarly to MWL, TFM&A can take pride in delivering engaging seminars with some well-known speakers.
3. London Investor Show
A trade show for private investors and traders.
With its extensive seminar schedule is a great place to get training and educate yourself in current trends and practices for investors. Good for keeping up to date with what’s new and ‘in’ in the financial sector.
4. BBC Good Food Show London
It is a show open to the general public organized for all those ‘foodies’ out there. If you a food blogger, that’s a good place to get some inspiration and meet like-minded people. Also, it could give you a chance to promote your blog to a wider audience.
5. 100% Design Show
It is one of the most important design shows for up and coming design talents. If you want to see what is currently trending in commercial design and meet some young and bright talents to network with, that’s a perfect place for you.
Key Tips To Keep In Mind for Forums/Meetups/Events
1. Check out discussion forums – they are great for networking online and to get a sense of what people in a specific field are interested in and what’s worth exploring. Think networking plus feedback.
2. Sign up to meet-up groups relevant to your field – attend some of the meet-ups, learn and network.
3. Attend events/shows within your area of interest – network, attend seminars and exchange business cards – simple, smooth and effective.
About The Author
Brandon is the man behind churning out amazing articles on Optiux Marketing blog. A writer by day and reader by night, he loves to try new methods and share with the world. He also wishes to travel the world before turning 40. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter @optiux.