Skip To The Main Content

A guide to networking events

Attending networking events should be a priority in order to grow and develop your business. But when it comes to finding the best ones to attend, it’s important to know that they aren’t just standalone events. There are many types of networking events that can come in different guises, which can bring different opportunities with them.

We’ve already discussed the benefits of good networking in our blog, How beneficial is networking for you and your business? In this guide, we explain different types of networking events and the different benefits attending them can have.

A guide to networking events

Professional association events

These events are set up by professional associations, such as a chamber of commerce, and industry organisations, like a technology or engineering institute. They target people working in specific markets, like association members, and are designed to allow them to network with others in their industry.

Benefits of attending

These networking events can be good for:

  • Connecting with people across a specific sector and building a name for yourself in an industry
  • Building relationships with key contacts – many professionals are loyal to their industry associations, so will attend most events they run
  • Getting referrals to your business – many professionals will want their industry to grow, so they will point someone in your direction if they think your business can help them and they can’t

Speed networking events

Best described as the business version of speed dating, these events aim to provide a quick way for a small or large group of people to network. Speed networking usually involves a series of rounds, during which time networkers sit in pairs and ask each other questions for a set amount of time. At the end of the round, a bell or buzzer sounds and they move on to the next person and the process starts again.

Benefits of attending

These networking events can be good for:

  • Gaining exposure to a lot of networkers in a short space of time
  • Getting straight to the point – you can let people know about your business needs and what you can offer right away
  • Meeting people in a fun, high-energy environment – this can help networkers relax and open up quicker, allowing you learn more about them

Conferences

Networking events are often tied to conferences, big and small. Multiple networking opportunities can take place, depending on the size of the conference. They can follow seminars or keynote speeches, for instance, or a networking slot might be provided for all attendees at the end.

Benefits of attending

These networking events can be good for:

  • Connecting with a wide range of people – conferences often attract large numbers as they focus on topics that affect multiple sectors
  • Meeting industry experts – many will have given talks and led seminars at the event
  • Following up with connections right away – there are usually ample opportunities to meet up to chat later in the day, such as at a workshop or for a business lunch

Breakfast or lunch meetings

Often set up by business organisations and associations, these short events allow a select, small group of people to network early in the morning over  breakfast or lunch. . Participants are usually invited to the meetings.

Benefits of attending

These networking events can be good for:

  • Connecting with busy business people whose networking opportunities might be limited later in the day  
  • Experiencing in-depth conversations – fewer people means strong group discussions can continue for longer
  • Getting more from networkers – many are more energised and focussed at the start of the working day and will feel privileged to be invited to these events

Round tables

These events are often organised by online and print business magazines and association publications. They involve a select number of top people, from across an industry or multiple sectors, being invited to talk about a particular business topic or issue. Attendees sit in a group around a table (hence the name) to discuss the issue together, before having the chance to network at the end. Photos are often taken throughout, with the discussion typed up into a magazine spread.

Benefits of attending

These networking events can be good for:

  • Meeting highly regarded business professionals – many publications will invite people who they know their readers respect and are interested in
  • Providing a way to get a good understanding of an individual, as they discuss their opinions and enforce their business knowledge
  • Promoting you and your business to a big audience – your face and any insightful thoughts you have on current issues could be published in a leading publication

Casual networking events

These events can provide a chance to network in a non-business, casual setting. They are often held after-hours and can take place in stylish or trendy venues, such as the VIP area of a cocktail bar or the private room of an art gallery.

Benefits of attending

These networking events can be good for:

  • Finding common ground to build connections – conversations are often outside of business, so it’s easier to find interests and hobbies that a networker might share with you, which you could enjoy to help build your business relationship
  • Getting to know people in a more relaxed environment – networkers can feel more comfortable, so are happy to open up to talk about themselves quicker
  • Meeting business people who are too busy to network during the day

Community events  

These are local events and can be organised by any establishment, from local trade or charities to nearby colleges and community centres. They can include summer fairs and fundraising events, and often provide local businesses with the chance to get involved, which can provide some good networking opportunities. 

Benefits of attending

These networking events can be good for:

  • Connecting with a range of business people in your local area
  • Giving a good name for yourself locally – getting involved in these events can show you want the best for your community, not just for you, which can reflect well on your business
  • Making your company more visible to locals, which can lead to customer and client opportunities closer to home

Other types of networking events to consider attending

Exhibitions – Areas can be set up throughout these to network, like at a conference, with company stands and product demonstrations allowing attendees to see what companies do.

Annual dinners – Guests and members of business associations and organisations and are invited to enjoy a sit-down meal together once a year.

Product launches – Select business people and the media are invited to the launch of an innovative product, such as from a research group, which usually starts and ends with time for networking.

Career fairs – These are often organised by colleges and universities to allow undergraduates to meet their potential future employers.

Helping you find good business networking events

There are many types of networking events to attend, from formal to casual, to those run by associations to those led by the community. With our expert networking services, we can give you access to the right events to connect with the right people to take your forward. The service includes:

  • An established framework of both face-to-face and virtual UK events
  • Events with supportive business environments to help you develop strong relationships
  • A structured format so you know what to expect at whatever event you attend

If you’d like to learn more about business networking and how we can help you, please visit our FSB Connect Networking page. FSB Connect Networking is included as standard with our packages, FSB Business Creation, FSB Business Essentials, and FSB Connect. Take a look at our package comparison page to find out about other benefits of these packages.

FSB Connect Networking from FSB

Network with other members and non members from across the UK through our National and Local networking framework

Find out more