Looking to expand your professional network in Indianapolis? Check out these seven networking events to connect with others in your industry, meet new colleagues — or maybe even your next boss.
Attending a bunch of networking events can seem daunting or even like a waste of time if you’re not in sales. But when you do it right, networking can be a great way to develop your career, expand your network of connections and learn more about your industry and the local economy.
The trick is to find groups that have goals you can connect with and members you can relate to. Whether you’re an experienced networker or a novice, there is an Indianapolis networking group to help boost you your career — and several that will improve your social life, too. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Network After Work Indianapolis
There’s no doubt about it — Network After Work puts on some of the largest, best-attended networking events in the city, regularly attracting over 100 professionals. With a crowd that size, the get-togethers are more of a “mixer” than a “meeting,” but color-coded name tags help attendees identify other participants by industry for easier introductions. As attendee Harlow Stevens puts it, the events have “Great turnout, [with] lots of interesting people there.”
If you’re looking for casual connections in a convivial atmosphere, Network After Work is the place to go. Admission is $12 in advance, $15 at the door with pre-registration or $20 at the door without pre-registration. The event lasts from 6-9 p.m. with light appetizers and a free cocktail from 6-7 p.m.
2. Young Professionals of Central Indiana
Networking is about much more than just making a sale. Young Professionals of Central Indiana is an organization devoted to helping the next generation of professionals develop all aspects of their lives, offering leadership and mentoring opportunities to community engagement and career networking events.
In addition to typical educational and business networking events, YPCI offers the opportunity to connect with other members through golf outings, casino nights and group-wide parties. The cost of membership in Young Professionals of Central Indiana is only $50 annually, and members receive discounted or free attendance to meetings and programs hosted by the group.
3. Network of Women in Business
For more than 35 years, the Network of Women in Business has provided opportunities for professional women in Indianapolis to develop their careers and expand their networks. NOWIB offers several meetings each month, including Southside, Northside, and Downtown locations, as well as Quarterly Power Lunches and occasional meetings focused on a particular industry or niche. Roundpeg chapter president Lorraine Ball says that she walks away from meetings feeling “energized, motivated, and inspired!”
Annual membership in NOWIB is $150, with a discounted yearly rate of $55 for full-time students. The group is run entirely by volunteers, and the Network encourages all participants to get involved and help shape the direction and character of the meetings. Guests are welcome to attend up to two meetings before determining if a membership is right for them.
For Indianapolis professionals who are looking for a more in-depth, intensive networking opportunity, Rainmakers may be just the right fit. The Rainmakers commitment is to offer more monthly meetings than other groups, more customization to their members’ needs, more training, and more connections. The group offers 10 networking and three training events each month, including groups focusing on young professionals, boomers and beyond, the technology industry and more.
Membership in Rainmakers runs $699 annually and gives members access to all monthly meetings, online groups, membership database and networking support from the Rainmakers staff. In addition to in-person networking, Rainmakers members also have access to private groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to continue making connections and passing referrals throughout the month.
5. Fast-Track Professional Networking
Prefer a networking opportunity that’s a bit more fast-paced and low-commitment? Linking Indiana’s speed networking events are a great way to make a lot of new connections in a highly structured environment. After registration, appetizers, and open networking, participants are seated in groups and asked to answer three questions in three minutes: Who are you? What do you do? How can you help others, and what kind of help are you looking for yourself?
A big stack of business cards is a must-have for anyone looking to attend these events, as connections are made quickly and often! Registration for Fast-Track Professional Networking is required at a cost of $20 in advance or $25 at the door.
6. Indy Rainbow Chamber
The Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber was founded to facilitate connections between professionals in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Allied (GLBTA) community. Monthly After Hours networking events are held from 5:30-7 p.m on the first Wednesday of each month.
These free events are a great opportunity for Indianapolis professionals to build their network in a relaxed and supportive environment. Interested businesses and professionals can also join the chamber at an annual rate of $50 to $750, depending on company size and membership type.
More than a networking group, TechPoint is the clearinghouse and support structure for all things tech in Indianapolis and beyond. Each month the group hosts two events that are free and open to the public: the “New Economy, New Rules” breakfast series and the “Tech Thursday” evening networking meetings.
These events offer a heavy educational component to attendees who range from experienced industry veterans to students and technology industry newcomers. In addition, TechPoint holds awards ceremonies, hackathons, entrepreneur bootcamps and more. Technology industry professionals and hopefuls can find valuable information on the group’s website, including job openings, internship programs and local industry trends.
Shelby Blanchard Stogner is a freelance copywriter and blogger who helps businesses get the word out about the great work they’re doing. Visit her on the web at www.sbscopywriting.com for marketing tips and advice on how your business can benefit from zombies.