Networking events are the lifeblood of professional growth and relationship-building. Hosting different types of networking events benefits not just your attendees but also your organization!
In fact, networking is one of the biggest reasons members join organizations! According to the 2023 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 64% of associations believe members join to network with others in the field.
Keep reading to find out more about what makes a great networking event, the best times to host one, and what type of networking event you should organize.
What is a Networking Event?
A networking event is a gathering where people meet to build professional relationships. These events come in many forms from casual meetups in a café to formal conferences. They can be held in person, online, or a hybrid of both.
What Are the Benefits of Holding a Networking Event?
Hosting a networking event offers loads of benefits, including:
- Relationship building for your attendees and your organization
- Lead generation. Meeting new people–and learning about their needs–creates opportunities to connect with potential customers or partners
- Brand building. Networking events are a great way to get your brand in front of new people!
- Positioning yourself as an expert through sharing knowledge and expertise
- Learning opportunities from speaking to people from different industries and backgrounds
Among many other potential benefits for your org and your audience!
When Should You Host a Networking Event?
Need help deciding when you should hold a networking event for your members or community? With all the benefits networking events can offer, you can consider hosting one whenever you:
- Launch a new product or service
- Want to share knowledge or boost brand visibility
- Need to conduct market research
- Would like to connect with new people or strengthen community connections
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when planning a networking event. When you choose a time to host your event, make sure you:
- Consider the schedules of your target audience. When are they most likely to be available for an event?
- Consider whether they’d be most interested in attending an in person, online, or hybrid event
- Choose a time that’s convenient for people to travel to and from your event if you’re hosting it in person
- Avoid scheduling your event during major holidays or other busy seasons
Ready to find out what types of networking events you can organize? Read on!
22 Types of Networking Events You Can Organize
There are many different types of networking events, each with unique benefits. Let’s take a look at 22 of the most popular ones:
Networking meetups are relaxed, informal gatherings often held in a casual setting, like a bar, restaurant, or coffee shop. These are perfect for mingling and just getting to know others in a low-pressure environment!
A networking workshop is an educational event offered by professional associations, career centers, and employers. These workshops teach participants how to network effectively and typically focus on topics like:
- How to start conversations at networking events
- How to build relationships within your network
- How to follow up after meeting someone at an event
An example of a networking workshops is this one hosted by the New York Institute of Technology:
Networking seminars are similar to networking workshops but are often more formal and in-depth. While workshops provide a hands-on environment, seminars offer a more structured format that might include keynote speakers and panel discussions. Networking seminars are an excellent place to learn and share industry insights!
Social networking events
Social networking events are informal networking events that are great for making friends and building professional relationships. For example, team-building events or meetups with activities like happy hours or cocktail parties. More informal social networking events can include game nights or themed parties.
Corporate networking events
Corporate networking events are hosted by companies for their employees, customers, or partners. To encourage camaraderie and collaboration, companies might host different types of business networking events, including team-building exercises, product demonstrations, or awards ceremonies.
Networking parties are fun events that can include social activities like dancing, karaoke, and games. This type of networking event provides the ideal atmosphere for socializing, meeting new people, bonding with others in the community, and simply having a good time!
Ever heard of speed dating? Well, speed networking is the professional equivalent! Participants are paired up for short conversations and rotate to a new partner every few minutes. Speed networking can be quite fun and is a fantastic way to practice your elevator pitch–since you only have a small window to make an impression and exchange information!
Online networking events
Online networking events are—you guessed it—networking events that take place online. The convenience of virtual events allows attendees to join from the comfort of their home (or office!) and organizers don’t need to worry as much about the logistics of event set-up.
To host an online networking event, you can use an event management platform to help attendees share and connect. For example, EventMobi’s event app offers networking features like:
- Customizable Personal Profiles
- Group Discussions
- Appointment Booking
- Private 1:1 Chat
- Live Session Chat
- Interactive Activity Feed
- Engagement tracking and analytics
Networking at conferences
Networking is a staple at most industry conferences, which bring together attendees to discuss the latest trends or to strike up new business opportunities. Outside of the main conference sessions or presentations, organizers might set up special luncheons or after-hours social events to help attendees network.
Networking mixers are events that bring people from different industries together. They may be held at bars, restaurants, or event spaces.
Executive networking groups
Executive networking groups are exclusive gatherings for senior-level executives. They provide a platform for executives to network and share high-level discussions or strategies.
High-end networking events
Looking to rub elbows at a more exclusive venue? High-end networking events can be expensive to attend but offer the opportunity to network with some of the most successful, high-profile people within a specific industry.
Trade shows are industry-specific events where companies showcase their products and services. Although they might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of different types of networking events, trade shows can be a great place for exhibitors, sponsors, organizers, and attendees to network with potential customers or partners!
1:1 networking meetings
Unlike other events where you meet and interact with multiple people at once, 1:1 networking events are private meetings with key contacts. More intimate meetings allow for more in-depth discussions, which makes 1:1 networking ideal for building deeper relationships with new contacts.
For example, attendees might meet 1:1 to discuss a session they both attended–or opt for 1:1 messaging to get to know contacts during an online event.
Breakfast or lunch networking
Nothing bonds people as quickly as sharing a good meal, which makes breakfast or lunch networking events perfect for meeting people in a low-pressure environment.
Whether you’re looking to reconnect with your former classmates or meet new people from similar backgrounds or fields of study, an alumni gathering can make for a powerful networking opportunity. Plus, the shared experience of attending the same school gives you something to bond over, makes it easier to break the ice, and allows for deeper connections.
Professional association meetings
Some associations hold professional networking events for members. This type of networking event provides a forum for members to meet, reconnect, learn from industry experts, and share updates and trends.
Examples of professional association meetings include the Summer Academic Conference by the American Marketing Association (AMA):
As well as the annual conference for HR professionals held by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):
A meet-and-greet is an informal networking event where you can meet new people, introduce yourself, and make some initial connections. This type of networking event is often held at bars, restaurants, or coffee shops.
Mentorship programs are networking programs that pair experienced professionals (mentors) with less experienced professionals (mentees). They provide an excellent opportunity for mentees to learn from an experienced professional while building valuable relationships.
VIP Receptions and Events
VIP receptions and events are exclusive gatherings where you can mingle with VIP guests—who are likely influential individuals within your industry.
Roundtable discussions are small-group networking events where participants discuss a specific topic. They are a great way to have in-depth conversations and share knowledge and expertise with other people in your industry.
What’s more classic than a happy hour networking event? These laid-back events allow attendees to meet, chat, and make connections over a round of drinks and appetizers.
Improve Your Attendees’ Networking Experience with the Right Software
Whatever type of networking event you’re planning, event management software like EventMobi can greatly enhance your attendees’ experience! Maximize attendee networking with a range of networking features, including:
- Attendee Directory: Allow your attendees to set up their profiles, search for other attendees, and contact each other during and after the event
- Private Chat: Attendees can communicate directly and privately without leaving the event app
- Appointment Booking: Encourage attendees to build lasting connections by letting them schedule 1:1 meetings through the networking app
- Live Session Chat: Attendees can interact with speakers or panelists by asking questions and engaging during session presentations
- Activity Feed: Group discussions where attendees can ask questions, share photos, start conversations, react with emojis, and reply to each others’ posts
- Gamification: Encourage networking by awarding points for connecting with others, attending sessions, or completing certain tasks
With event management software like EventMobi, you can improve the networking experience for attendees and help them make lasting connections! Interested in learning more? Contact us today.
Enhance Networking and Foster Conversations with an Event Management App
Hopefully, you’ve learned something new about the different types of networking events and how to best use them to your advantage! Done right, networking events can be a lot of fun as well as a great way to meet new people, make connections, and explore opportunities.
Whether you’re planning a small meet-and-greet or a VIP reception, remember to tailor your networking event to suit your audience’s preferences and professional goals.
Organizing a networking event? EventMobi lets you maximize engagement with a variety of interactive networking features. Watch the product tour to learn more!