After spending the majority of my evening last night on the gorgeous rooftop of Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach for the Girls in Tech Los Angeles Summer Event (http://www.girlsintech.net), I had to write a blog on networking events. Personally, I've enjoyed my time on the executive board for GITLA because let's face it - everyone is in tech. Everyone uses technology in their day to day in some way or another. Tech spans from entertainment to web development to fashion, all fields that interest me. If you've stumbled across my blog, you are probably interestesd in the tech field in some way and I suggest you check out your local Girls in Tech chapter at http://www.girlsintech.net.
My advice for networking events is two fold depending on if you are an intern or a recent graduate/entry-level employee.
I suggest that interns get involved with everything they can on a trial basis. As an intern, constantly ask people about the networking groups they are involved with. When you have the opportunity to chat with executives and professionals at your company, ask them what networking groups they belong to. Also, ask them if you might be able to attend one of that organization's events and who you should contact to try it out. In another city for the summer? This is the perfect time for you to check out new networking groups and see which are a fit.
Before you go, ask yourself the following:
1. What is my objective? What to I want to get out of this event?
2. What types of people do I want to meet and what do I want to make sure they know about me?
For entry-level employees & those who have been around networking events in the past, it's time to be a little more selective. You will learn after time that it's actually not that much fun to go to a different networking event every night and it actually costs lots of money and can prevent you from getting other work done. I encourage you to write out all of the groups that you currently have relationships with. Then take a moment and ask yourself, "what's missing?" What are you NOT getting out of these groups, pretend you are an intern again, go back and experiment with new groups and find what you are looking for.
Remember, don't be a part of a group because your friends are. Do this for yourself. Make sure that you see value in your time commitment. Decide which group is most important to you and become very involved and active - even seek out executive board positions. It's the people who want to be involved in everything and who cannot say no that seem to have the most problems with networking events. Be selective. Come prepared. Take something away.