Networking is one of the most important parts of growing a career. The act of meeting other professionals within the same field of work helps individuals grow their network, leading them to more job opportunities and sustained growth. Like most cities, Baltimore has many professional networking events designed to help professionals of all ages build relationships and showcase their skills on a regional scale. There are also dozens of networking tips and tricks of which all professionals should be aware if they want to seek higher job opportunities. Whether in-person or online, networking is a skill that must be honed in order to succeed in the job field.
Events and Organizations
Like speed dating, the idea behind speed networking is for professionals to meet one another in a face-to-face environment. Although for a limited time, the moments spent discussing work and accomplishments often leads to an exchange of contact information.
SpeedBaltimore hosts a number of events around the city that places professionals across the table, from small business owners, entrepreneurs and others in a variety of fields. The events are relaxed and often take place at restaurants and pubs, just like a speed dating event. Forget the name tags and whistles. SpeedBaltimore encourages a relaxed and casual environment where professionals can come together organically.
Network Under 40: Baltimore
This national organization hosts events in Baltimore quite frequently. Network Under 40 prides itself in creating lasting business relationships based on the idea that it all starts with friendship. Genuine relationships with real people, not just automated messages, are the key to long-term personal and business success.
The organization encourages attendees to build relationships with professionals in all fields, not just the field in which they work. More of a mixer than a strict business environment, most events occur in restaurants and bars. Attendees can chat, laugh and dance with each other, providing an opportunity to engage in conversation outside of just business matters. Events are hosted across the city.
Baltimore Professionals and Entrepreneurs
This networking group consists of more than 5,000 members across Charm City, making it one of the largest on the east coast. Baltimore Professionals and Entrepreneurs invite small and prospective business owners, entrepreneurs and others to join and attend dozens of meetups, all of which encourage relationship building and networking. The goal is for members to collaborate and grow business and personal relationships. The organization hosts events throughout Baltimore on a consistent basis.
In the age of technology, social media plays a huge role in professional networking. In fact, most networking nowadays happens via the internet. The most popular professional networking website is LinkedIn, which allows users to create an online business profile, connect with other professionals and build relationships.
LinkedIn is a must for all professionals, regardless of the job industry or age. The site builds bridges from one person to the next, linking potential business prospects together based on their past business experience, education credentials or even home town. Members build a personal business resume that includes past experience, successes and achievements. The site also notifies all contacts when a user gets a promotion or switches jobs, helping him or her remain visible to all professional contacts.
Other social media sites can help with networking on a more personal level. Facebook, for example, allows individuals to connect outside of the working world. They can share laughs and see what the other person is like in the real world. Of course, getting this personal can be a bit risky with professional contacts. Therefore, it is best to use common sense when posting information online. Users must understand who has access to these posts. Potential bosses and colleagues might not enjoy seeing pictures of booze-infused parties.
Professional Networking Tips
Networking is all about creating strong business relationships. Whether at an event or networking online, there are a few key points that all networking professionals must keep in mind.
Take the Time to Get to Know People
At a speed networking event, it can be easy to skip over certain individuals who may not fit the criteria for a professional relationship. However, this can only reveal itself through communication. You never know who might end up making the best professional contact. Take time to speak to everyone you meet. Looking over someone’s shoulder is a turn off and will only lead to dead ends.
Prepare a Summary
Most networking events offer quick conversations with other professionals, which means a relatively short amount of time to summarize one’s successes, traits, attributes and prospects. Before attending a networking event, attendees should prepare a short speech, highlighting the most important points they wish to make.
It should include the individual’s college, major area of study and any activities he or she participated in, such as Greek life. These talking points can make personal connections and serve as stepping stones to more business-related matters. The speech should also include the individual’s current career and his or her plans for the future.
Stay Active and Visible
Meeting other professionals at an event means nothing if you disappear from their radar. It’s important to remain visible, whether that means consistent face-to-face contact, electronic communication or on social media. Networking does not happen overnight. It takes time to build relationships with others before you begin seeing a return. Be sure to add these new contacts on your LinkedIn profile so they can see what you are up to.
Watch What You Post
This goes without saying, but anything posted online can be saved and shared for the world to see. Facebook allows users to adjust their settings to allow only certain individuals to view private posts. However, there’s no guarantee that these posts will remain within the designated group. Professional networking relationships can grow stronger when personal matters are shared among one another. But frequent political posts, comments laced with profanity or inappropriate pictures can do more harm than good. Exercise caution when posting or sharing on social media.