When career experts talk about job searching, the term "networking" is guaranteed to make an appearance in the conversation. Experts love to drill this into your head: The more you put yourself out there, the better chance you'll have of connecting with the right person who can help advance your career.
Meeting new professionals gives you the chance to talk about where you've been and where you want to go in your career, plus it affords you the chance to learn about different companies, make new connections, and learn about new opportunities.
But it's easier said than done. How do you really get out there and network face-to-face? The answer: professional networking events. While many of them come with a price tag, they might be worth your while, especially if you're in a career rut. The following sites host professional events all over the United States:
Meetup.com is slowly becoming a household name among professionals, because it casts a wide net of opportunities to meet people with common hobbies and interests. For job-seekers, this site also offers industry-specific professional networking events. For instance, if you search "marketing," Meetup.com will find the nearest mixers specifically for marketing professionals. Feeling bold? You can also start and organize your own Meetup event.
Eventbrite.com offers an incredibly useful directory of events that are going on around you. It's a go-to website for countless associations and organizations that are looking to promote networking events and set up ticket sales. Click "Find events" at the top of the homepage to access various categories of events, including classes, conferences, social events, and businesses; you can even search for events exclusively designed for networking.
3. LinkedIn Events
LinkedIn is the largest, most popular professional social networking website. If only there was a way to bring your virtual network offline to create some real-life connections? As it turns out, there is—there's actually an entire events directory for you to peruse on LinkedIn's Events page. Choose your industry, pick your nearest location, and explore events that appeal to you.
Geared toward budding young professionals, NetParty.com is huge, with more than 100,000 members. And its venues are always cool: lounges, nightclubs, or mansions; no stuffy lecture or conference rooms. These networking events are more on the glamorous and festive side, though still not a bad way to meet new young professionals.
5. Women For Hire
This recruiting site for women hosts career expos all over the U.S.(in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C.). These events are all free to attend as long as you come with a resume. Though it's possible to meet like-minded professionals at these expos, the main purpose is to connect talented, educated women with recruiters and hiring managers. It's more of a career fair than a mixer. Womenforhire.com claims to have more than 10,000 success stories from women who've attended these career expos.
The eWomenNetwork does more than just host networking events. The organization's leaders empower women by offering help and guidance, especially for those who work in the business sector. For instance, eWomenNetwork often conducts a "Wisdom Circle" process, which is a chance for women to present a problem or issue and then receive suggestions for solutions.
7. Dames Bond
The first all-female networking community, Damesbond.com was recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the Top 10 Career Sites for Working Women. In addition to a strong online community, this site has leaders who host educational, social-based, motivational, and inspirational events. You can find both Dames Bond meet-ups as well as events posted by its members in the calendar section of the site.
If you're in the media business, keeping an eye on Mediabistro.com is a must. The site caters to those in the fields of marketing, social media, publication, writing, journalism, and other media-related trades. The site offers informative and niche-specific networking events, like the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit. Some of the events are in-person and some conferences, like the Job Search Boot Camp, are online.
Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, salary information, and a free career happiness assessment.