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Networking Beyond the Hashtag

NetworkingSmilesSocial Media Community Manager Teresa Dankowski contributed to this post.

In our tech-heavy world, creating content in multiple formats is a necessity. From videos to blogs, print, broadcast and social, there are several avenues to digest information.

In addition to all the electronic ways to communicate, there is the oft-overlooked face-to-face event, which gives us the chance to see faces instead of avatars and speak in 150 characters without hashtags.

Networking has long been a staple of business practices and for good reason. Besides meeting new people and starting or maintaining relationships with partners, customers and prospects, most networking events offer a panel or speaker who shares insight and best practices.

We’ve done some research and have tips to find networking events in your area, no matter your location or budget:

City-Sponsored Events – From Chamber of Commerce gatherings to workshops, the city knows an educated public is more invested in the success of itself and its community. Subscribe to your city’s calendar of events or visit its site periodically to see if it has anything upcoming that can help grow your skill set. The city of Chicago offers free Business Education Workshops that focus on social media, finance and other business-related topics.

Event Websites – & Eventbrite are the most well-known in this genre, and make it easy to find events by location, industry and other criteria. Google+ also makes it easy to search public event listings: hover over the Home icon -> click Events   -> Find More Events -> Search!

Join an Industry Group: Both PRSA & AMA have chapters throughout the country and membership has many perks, including conferences, events and training. For a fee, you can join events and the like without membership. It’s a little more money but it’s worth it to join, AND through Friday, PRSA is offering FREE entry to a local chapter when you become a member.

Social Media Week – With 20 host cities supporting this biannual week-long events extravaganza, Social Media Week is definitely deserving of its own bullet point, if not a permanent placeholder in your calendar. Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto are the North American cities next up to welcome Social Media Week in September 2013 and—let’s not overlook the most important part—organizers promise 90 percent of the events will (again) be free. Cision staffers gleaned some valuable wisdom at Social Media Week Chicago last year on topics such as social media, startups, marketing and SEO—with ample time for mingling with professionals and exchanging business cards, and sometimes snagging free beverages, snacks and swag.

Win a Ticket – Increasingly, event organizers and sponsors are holding contests where you can win tickets based on your response to a question or your loyalty in sharing, liking or retweeting a post related to the conference or trade show. It may be a long shot, but contests can be a great way to flex your writing and social media skills, or get some type of recognition for your brand based on a thoughtful response—even if you’re just the runner-up. Speaking of, the conference @Midwest is giving away free tickets in exchange for your social media success story or lesson learned. They need your response by today, so get writing!

If the above options don’t work, there are still more options!
#FollowTheHashtag: If there’s an event hashtag, follow it on  Twitter to learn bits of information, engage with the attendees and retweet.

Webinars: Webinars are a great way to learn new information in a short period of time, while also discussing your findings with a like-minded group. We have a weekly webinar series at Cision and during our webinars, we use an event hashtag so attendees can live-tweet and share.

Ragan Training: Ragan Communications has long held conferences for communicators, but they recently added a virtual solution to their circuit.  Ragan Training gives users 24/7 access to continuing education pieces, including videos, webinar recordings and interactive courses, and new content is added monthly. They’re currently offering a special rate, which is $300 off, so get over there and sign up soon!

Start Your Own Event! If all else fails, start your own event! Chances are, if you’re looking for a group, other people are looking for it to. Dive in and start your own event, but don’t forget to put it on Meetup, Eventbrite, Google+, and use a #hashtag!


About Lisa Denten

Lisa Denten is the Social Media Manager of Cision U.S., where she leads social strategy, coordinates the blog editorial calendar and manages public relations campaigns. She regularly hosts Cision webinars, was chosen as a #FollowFriday guest on industry blog Spin Sucks, and has spoken on panels for Inbound Marketing Summit and Publicity Club of Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry before joining Cision in 2008. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter at @lisaml15.

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