This article originally appeared on MeetingPlay.

From the event planner tasked with planning smaller, local and less frequent events, to the venue coordinator tasked with attracting large scale conventions, conferences and seminars to your venue, and all the many other types of industry providers in between - together we are known as 'event professionals'.

Event professionals - regardless of whether we're planning, hosting, or providing a service such as mobile event app or audio/visual, know firsthand the value and importance of networking.Yet, while we as event professionals do know the value and importance of networking, oft forget to actively make efforts to network! Go figure, right? Knowing how important networking is for any event professional, we've compiled a list of 7 Resources to Help Event Professionals Build Professional Networks:

1.) Conferences
Conferences, seminars and meetings, oh my! As those who work in the events industry every day - we know that there is no shortcoming of events that take place throughout the year to help build powerful and valuable networking opportunities. But where does an event professional go to find relevant events for their industry?

SmartMeetings has a great resource of events that are happening all around, all year long, that are perfect for anyone in the events industry.

ConventionNation provides not only a great resource of event listings, but past attendees reviews and experiences.

2.) Local Business Groups
The popularity of local business groups seems to be ever more rising these days, however there are still some good and common resources to follow that are located in every area:

BNI – Business Network International – Priding factors include having nearly 200k members and 7500 chapters worldwide.

Toastmasters - is a nonprofit organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills

Sandler Training - Sandler dominates the global training market through an unparalleled network of more than 250 offices worldwide, with professional trainers providing more than 450,000 hours per year of instruction in 23 languages.

3.) Associations
As event professionals the amount of resources we have at hand seem to be countless, and yet we often forget one of the best opportunities available to us – associations. Connecting shouldn’t be just limited to event associations, however event associations are a great place to start. Examples of strong affiliated and inclusive of having local chapters in most areas as well include:

MPI (Meeting Professionals International) - Professional membership organization for corporate, association, and independent meeting planners.

EPA (Event Planners Association) - The Event Planners Association is the national trade association for professionals in the event and amusement industries and serves as a wedding planner association, inflatable association, meeting planner association, and other event and amusement associations all wrapped up into one

SPIN(Senior Planners Industry Network) - The world's largest association of senior-level planners.

Don’t forget, however! Your exact industry and or profession may be more specific than just event planning and/or event professional association groups. Don’t forget to think outside the box when doing a search for associations relevant to your trade.

4.) Co-Working Environments
Odds are if you are located in any decent metropolitan area, there is a local co-working office. These unique and affordable environments allow not only a potential to showcase your expertise should you require a meeting room – but also can help you connect with other business profiessionals in your area that you may not otherwise always connect with. By performing a simple Google search for ‘CoWork + Your Location’ you can find the opportunities available to you.

5.) Social Media
Social media provides several opportunities to grow both your cross country and international networking. Both LinkedIn and Facebook provide groups for event professionals, as well as many other trades – all you need to do is merely perform a search:

LinkedIn Groups
Make sure you enter in the search box what term is most relevant to you, as well as selecting “Group” on the left hand side below the search box. By doing this, you will be given options to join/learn more about the many relevant groups:LinkedIn.png

LinkedIn.png

Facebook Groups:
Similar to LinkedIn, just merely do a search for your relevant network/niche and you will be shown relevant groups to you.

Pro-Tip:
Already part of a group on LinkedIn or Facebook? Ask your community that you are connected with if there is any additional communities they would recommend you become affiliated with based upon your niche/industry/title.

6.) Ask Your Current List
Often times when we think of networking, we think we must completely reinvent a wheel that doesn’t need to be reinvented always. Odds are, every event professional has some type of list of contacts and networking partners that can help us more than we realize. By simply engaging and connecting, on a ‘human to human’ level (i.e. don’t send an automated, generic email to your 300 contact list) with those we are already connected with, can bring great opportunity and rewards!

Pro tip:
Don’t be selfish! If you are reaching out to ask for potential opportunity clients and/or networking, perhaps provide a similar level of exchange and or contact that would help to whom you are reaching out to, as well!

7.) Lend a Hand
Wherever you may be located, there is always opportunity for volunteering. Whether it’s serving on a public board or commission, or it is serving soup at the local homeless shelter – volunteering can provide a great opportunity to meet other professionals to network and engage with. You’d be shocked at who you will interact and come across when volunteering – and because of your commitment to helping, you’ve built a trust that speaks volumes when nurturing this potential networking opportunity.

In Conclusion:
There are countless opportunities and experiences to network as event professionals should we just merely put on our game face and be confident enough to engage.