Kenny Soto Expand Your Network

The Best Networking Tip For Young Professionals: Host An Event

Why networking sucks

I can still remember the most awkward greeting I ever gave someone at the first networking event I attended in 2014.

Person: “Hi there! My name is…”

Me: “I apologize for saying hi…uh, my name’s Kenny Soto.”

Needless to say, nothing came from that exchange.

Networking can be tough, especially for young professionals who are just starting their careers after graduating college. We don’t have a list of accomplishments that we can use to impress notable veterans in our respective industries. The reason most of us are going to networking events is so we can find job opportunities, so coming up with a reason as to why someone should care about us can be difficult.

This year I’ve discovered a sure-fire way of getting the attention of people who can help you grow in your career. This networking strategy has been staring me in the face for quite some time now, and it is easy to pull off. It is all about hosting an event.

 

The advantages of hosting an event

In most scenarios, networking events that I have attended follow pretty much the same format:

  • 30 minutes of general meet and greet
  • A panel or roundtable discussion
  • Q & A for the speakers
  • Closing remarks
  • 15 to 30 more minutes of general networking

 

Whether or not the event has a panel discussion or question and answer period doesn’t matter. What matters most is that during these events there is a set agenda that is followed so that everyone participating can benefit. But do you know who always benefits the most from these events? The host!

When you’re the attendee, you have to make it your mission to go up to others, shake their hands and introduce yourself. When I first started off, my general approach was to meet as many people as possible (which was definitely the wrong approach). If you’re naturally introverted, just attending the event is a hassle. However, when you’re the host no matter what your objective is, it will be much easier because people will naturally want to speak with you.

There will be no friction or awkwardness when greeting others. The attendees came knowing the objective of the event was designed for their benefit as well as yours and if the event is an enjoyable one, they will be more than happy to speak with you.

 

How to set up an event

You want to make sure your event goes smoothly so you can focus on your real objective: meeting people who you can build professional relationships with. To start off, consider who you want to attend your event. This will be a crucial part of your strategy moving forward with both planning your agenda and marketing your event online (more on this below).

Think about who you want to meet, and how you can bring value to them. If the event isn’t beneficial to all parties involved you risk having people avoid any future invitations you send out.

You don’t need to plan your event alone. You can find other like-minded people (who also want to grow in your field) to help you. If you’re in a position where you can’t speak on a particular topic, search on LinkedIn and Twitter for an individual in your space who is also looking to expand their network.

Planning an event takes a financial investment on your part so the more people you have involved, the less the burden will be. If you can have 6-10 colleagues chip in for the venue, food, and speaker fees, the planning will be much easier.

Another concern I usually have when hosting any workshop on digital marketing (the main topic of each event that I host) is finding the right venue. Before committing you want to review the location in person. I suggest that you come with a checklist of everything that you need for the event so that it goes smoothly.

Some questions you may want to consider are:

  • How many people can the venue hold?
  • Is the lighting appropriate for the type of event you’re hosting?
  • Is the venue difficult to find?
  • Do other networking events happen simultaneously at this location?
  • Can food be served at the location? Is there a place to store food?
  • Who is in charge of clean up? Are these services charged separately?

Certainly, there are other variables to take into consideration but, these are some of the questions I wish I had asked myself and my team before committing to venues when I first started hosting events.

 

Marketing it the right way

After you’ve made your full-proof plan to get your event underway, the next step is making sure people come. You want to utilize multiple platforms such as Facebook events, Eventbrite, and MeetUp to get as many people exposed to the event as possible.

If you can, I suggest having a budget of $150-200 to do some Facebook advertising, targeting people who fit the criteria of who you would like to network with (use this handy guide from Buffer to get started). A simple way to set your targeting parameters is to focus on location, age range, industry, and job titles. I wouldn’t go so far as to include interest targeting when you first start off.

Make sure that if you have any guest speakers, you ask them to promote the event on all of their social channels as well. You want to utilize whatever audience(s) they may have to gain free exposure.

When providing the description of the event, always tie back your messaging to what attendees will gain from the experience. They will all know that one of the primary reasons they should attend is to network but, there has to be other benefits besides that. Consider what they will learn from attending, that is always a great place to start. Lastly, always add some verbiage that asks your audience to share the event with their friends and colleagues. Perhaps your event will be beneficial to their friends as well.

 

Following up with attendees

After your event, if you were a good host and attended to your attendee’s needs, you will have gotten more contacts than you can count. It is important to prioritize who to follow up with, within a 24 hour period. Who introduced themselves to you that can you can build a relationship with?

My approach is to always think about what’s the best way I can provide value to the other party? If I can’t find a way to be useful to the person I’m following up with, I don’t bother sending them anything more than a, “let’s stay connected on social media,” or “I hope to see you again at our next event.” You want to make sure you’re maximizing your time after the event, ensuring the people you follow up with can give that return on investment that you’re looking for.
Hosting an event does take more effort on your part but, if you don’t do it alone and with careful planning, it can expand your network and help you create genuine relationships over time. And you have a greater chance of avoiding the awkward greetings that come when you first start off.

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surviving life after college kenny soto

5 Tips To Use When Surviving Life After College

Surviving Life After College Isn’t Easy

I recently started the journey of living life as a college graduate and one day something dawned on me. As I was in my room thinking about all of the hard lessons I had recently experienced I got the inspiration to create a series of articles logging the insights I’m getting to make life easier for anyone who is a recent college graduate or just someone starting their 20s. As time goes on, I’ll be creating separate articles on each of the subjects discussed below. I’d love your feedback in the comments section after reading this (or you can reach out to me on social media as well). The more feedback I get from you, my audience, the more useful these articles become!

Getting A Job: Using LinkedIn & Networking Events

  • LinkedIn

It’s the best platform to apply for jobs. With a click of a button, you can send over your profile and resume to countless organizations who are hiring. When I got my job at ThomasNet, I submitted 162 applications in a day to get the opportunity for an interview — all through LinkedIn. And that took me only an hour and a half to do.

  • Networking

Networking is essential to getting a job. While you’re prospecting online, don’t forget also to put yourself out there in the real world. Opportunities come from your network, and if you’re not growing it — you won’t have any opportunities presented to you. I still get freelance gigs offered to me on a monthly basis because when people think of someone who can help them with their social media marketing, I’m one of the first names that come to mind. Below is a list of tips you can use when you begin networking.

  • MeetUp & Eventbrite are your best friends. Use these platforms to make your event search easy and manageable.
  • When going to networking events, have a clear objective. Who is that you want to meet? People have the issue of wanting to speak to every single person in the room, and that’s not the approach that leads to results. Having 1-2 meaningful conversations with people that you’ve done research on is what you should be aiming for. Look for group organizers and search for them on LinkedIn to find out more about what companies they are associated with. If you can’t connect with them at the event, thank them on LinkedIn after, letting them know you enjoyed the event and that you’d love to follow up and speak to them personally.
  • Have a clear way to follow up. No connection works, regardless of who exchanges their business card with you, if you don’t have a clear “to-do” so that both of you follow up with each other. Grab a cup a coffee or grab lunch with them.
  • Connect online, either on LinkedIn (preferably) or on another social media platform.
  • Networking doesn’t work if you only meet with them once or twice. You want to see and connect with them at multiple events.
  • DON’T ASK FOR OPPORTUNITIES. Seek to learn from your connections, the opportunities come from the growth of the relationship you create with your new connections.

Budgeting: The Best Way to Keep Your Sanity

Don’t learn this the hard way. 40% of every paycheck you get should be allocated to your savings and assets. I won’t go into too many details as far as which savings account would be right for you, but I would recommend using Acorns and Robinhood for your assets. Acorns allows you to save money based off of cents you allocate from purchases that get rounded up to the nearest dollar and Robinhood allows you to invest in the stock market by giving you specific companies to choose from. I always follow the rule of — only investing in companies that I am a customer of.

As far as creating a budget that works for you, I suggest just having money set aside for these essential categories (ordered in priority):

  • Rent
  • Savings
  • Food
  • Personal Care
  • Phone Bill
  • House cleaning products
  • Wifi
  • Gym or Yoga Membership
  • Student Loans
  • Credit Card
  • Misc Expenses – Books, Movies, Bars, etc.

The online tool I use to track all of my expenses is Mint. They have a mobile app that can help me not only see if I’m spending too much money on one particular category, but it also gives me reminders of when my bills are due so I can plan ahead.

Food Shopping & Cooking: Do It The Right Way

Never go food shopping if you can’t get at least one item on sale, coupons are everything when it comes to saving money. Another great tip that is often overlooked is NEVER GO FOOD SHOPPING IF YOU’RE HUNGRY. You end up shopping with your eyes and ignoring the essentials on your list. I usually only purchase groceries to last me two weeks. Often, if you buy too much food, you can let things go to waste.

For cooking, regardless of what you’re making for dinner, one money saving tip I use is setting aside a portion of what I make in a Tupperware for lunch the following day. This is a habit I picked up from my Mother, and I don’t regret doing so. It’s helped me save 15% of my total food budget, which I’ve now allocated to my emergency fund.

Finding A Place To Live

I have come to the conclusion that there are only two rules you need to remember. The context for finding a room or apartment is different for everyone, but I find these two tips to be extremely applicable, regardless of the situation:

  1. See the apartment in person before discussing the logistics of payment.
  2. Move in with people you know or that a friend/family member can vouch for (saves you the stress of worrying whether or not your roommate is a crazy person).

Living With Roommates

As far as living with roommates goes, I suggest three things.

  1. Have a rotating chore list so everyone does their fair share of the housework.
  2. Always let each other know when you’re having guests over so there are no unpleasant surprises.
  3. Have a shared budget for groceries, it decreases the burden of having to worry about food.

The reason I haven’t put any advice in regards to living on your own in this article is simply because I don’t have that experience yet to give anything of value. Once I cross that bridge, I’ll create some content around that.

Recommended articles:

  1. Time Management: A 6-Step Guide For Millennials
  2. Getting a Job After College, Spec Work is The Best Method
  3. The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s

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