The top 10 sites for finding networking events

Hands in a circle

 

1. Meet-up.com
The daddy of event-listing websites. This is a super-usable finder for offline events for just about anything - hobby, industry, stage of business. Search by topic or postcode, view other group members' profiles, create your own event and group, and do it all for free. Many meet-up groups also have mailing lists, which are very handy for regular email Q&A's when you can't meet face-to-face.
2. Smarta
Well, we would say that. But we do have a thriving community of other business owners just like you, and you can help each other online (through our Q&A) or meet up offline (check out our events listings). And, of course, it's all free.
3. 4Networking
We love 4Networking - founder Brad Burton is ace, and he's hell-bent on making sure his networking events are as un-pretentious and un-pointless as possible. After introductions, you set up 10-minute appointments with the people at the event you think it'd be most useful to chat with. That means you don't waste time and you can achieve what you want to. 4Networking operates across the country and is only £10 per breakfast meeting - bargain.
4. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is loaded with professionals, and great for anything B2B because of that. You can search out people in your contacts' networks and ask for mutual contacts to introduce you. It lists events and has endless online groups where you can find like-minded business owners or industry bods to bounce ideas around with.
5. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
The FSB is the biggest lobbying group for small businesses in the UK, and it helpfully organises local networking events that are well-attended by local small businesses.  Find your local one here: http://www.fsb.org.uk/map . Each lists its own regional events. There will normally be three or four networking events a month, either free or roughly £30 - £45 for more formal golfing days and dinners.
6. British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
Your local Chamber of Commerce runs networking groups for a mix of big and small businesses - perfect if you're after large contracts. Like the FSB, it offers plenty of free events alongside paid-for 'prestige events'. Dabble with the free ones first to see if the 'prestige' is worth the price-tag.
7. Business Link
Business Link has a basic search engine for its database of local business events, which spans free ones right up to those suspicious £500-a-day ones (we rarely recommend these, though some are occasionally good - use caution). The site is a little cumbersome but use  the enticingly labelled 'Method 2' to search rather than the altogether more mundanely titled 'Method 1' and your life will be much easier.
8. www.findnetworkingevents.com
Does exactly what it says on the tin, for the whole of the UK. The events it lists are organised by various other networking organisations, so prices and format varies widely, but it's a good starting point for exploring what's on in your region.
9. Simply Networking http://www.networking4business.com/future-events.htm -
We love the fact that all of Simply Networking's events (which it organises itself) are only a tenner to attend. That's an absolute steal. And there are no sneaky registration fees. Expect 50 - 100 other business owners and professionals - a pretty decent number. Note: it only operates in the north of England.
10. Twitter
Get a profile on Twitter, follow people in your industry and you'll soon find plenty of good events dropped into daily conversations. You can also use Twitter's search to, er, search for relevant events, thought this approach is likely to be a little more hit and miss.

 

1. Meetup.com

The daddy of event listing websites. This is a super-usable finder for offline events for just about anything - hobby, industry, stage of business. Search by topic or postcode, view other group members' profiles, create your own event and group, and do it all for free. Many meet-up groups also have mailing lists, which are very handy for regular emails and Q&As when you can't meet face-to-face.

2. Smarta

Well, we would say that. But we do have a thriving community of other business owners just like you, and you can help each other online (through our Q&A) and arrange to meet up offline. And, of course, it's all free.

3. 4Networking

We love 4Networking - founder Brad Burton is ace - and he's hell-bent on making sure his networking events are as unpretentious and un-pointless as possible. After introductions, you set up 10-minute appointments with the people at the event you think it'd be most useful to chat with. That means you don't waste time and you can achieve what you want to. 4Networking operates across the country and is only £10 per breakfast meeting - bargain.

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is loaded with professionals, and great for anything B2B because of that. You can search out people in your contacts' networks and ask for mutual contacts to introduce you. It lists events and has endless online groups where you can find like-minded business owners or industry bods to bounce ideas around with.

5. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

The FSB is the biggest lobbying group for small businesses in the UK, and it helpfully organises local networking events that are well-attended by local small businesses.  Click the link to find your local one. Each lists its own regional events. There will normally be three or four networking events a month, either free or roughly £30 - £45 for more formal golfing days and dinners.

6. British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)

Your local Chamber of Commerce runs networking groups for a mix of big and small businesses - perfect if you're after large contracts. Like the FSB, it offers plenty of free events alongside paid-for 'prestige events'. Dabble with the free ones first to see if the 'prestige' is worth the price-tag.

7. Business Link

Business Link has a basic search engine for its database of local business events, which spans free ones right up to those suspicious £500-a-day ones (we rarely recommend these, though some are occasionally good - use caution). The site is a little cumbersome but uses the enticingly labelled 'Method 2' to search rather than the altogether more mundanely titled 'Method 1' and your life will be much easier.

8. Findnetworkingevents.com

Does exactly what it says on the tin, for the whole of the UK. The events it lists are organised by various other networking organisations, so prices and format vary widely, but it's a good starting point for exploring what's on in your region.

9. Simply Networking

We love the fact that all of Simply Networking's events (which it organises itself) are only a tenner to attend. That's an absolute steal. And there are no sneaky registration fees. Expect 50 - 100 other business owners and professionals - a pretty decent number. Note: it only operates in the north of England.

10. Twitter

Get a profile on Twitter, follow people in your industry and you'll soon find plenty of good events dropped into daily conversations. You can also use Twitter's search to, er, search for relevant events, thought this approach is likely to be a little more hit and miss.

 

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