As businesses rethink the pandemic-induced work-from-home norm, employees urge their companies to continue a remote work option that facilitates a better work-life balance. As these differing viewpoints clash and converge, Harvard Business Review declared that “tension is rising around remote work.”
While some companies fully embrace a work-from-home remote office design, they also understand virtual conferencing cannot fully replicate in-person conversations and collaboration. In this time of structural transformation for the workforce, businesses that permanently pivot to remote must emphasize the importance of in-person events and networking and the benefits these face-to-face interactions provide to employee development and retention.
The Importance of Networking in Business
Networking events help employees meet other professionals in the industry and develop working relationships with business leaders and key decision-makers. Additionally, some companies encourage their employees and managers to participate in networking events related to the industries of their clients.
These events provide crucial opportunities for building and growing relationships to help the company generate business leads, make important industry contacts, and increase visibility within a sector. Networking is a key element to business success and growth. Trade shows, meetings and lunches hosted by professional associations/societies, and annual industry
conferences are designed to be in-person events that encourage relationship-building,
collaborative interaction, and symposium-styled educational sessions that allow attendees to grow their industry connections and knowledge.
How to Find Networking Events
Each industry offers different tools, resources, and professional organizations that help businesses find networking events for team members. Managers and company owners need to keep their finger on the pulse of their industry. That said, joining professional associations and organizations gives business leaders access to schedules and calendars announcing different events and networking opportunities.
Encourage and incentivize team members to join professional organizations related to the industry. Many companies reimburse employees for membership dues or the costs associated with events. Consider the inclusion of these costs into an employee’s benefit package.
When team members actively participate in networking events, they can increase their business contacts and build relationships that could help them nurture new business opportunities for the company. In addition, professional memberships and networking also increase the visibility of the business.
Professional Development Ideas
The company wins when team members gain more knowledge and industry expertise. Encourage professional development and help team members stay at the forefront of the industry.
Accreditations and certifications expand an individual’s knowledge and can aid in professional advancement. In some industries, higher-level positions could require these certifications, designations, or accreditations.
Professional development ideas for employees can also include continuing education classes that help team members learn about new trends and technologies, symposiums led by industry experts, or virtual webinars that introduce new concepts. For companies unsure how to help their team find professional development opportunities, explore CareerOneStop (via the U.S. Department of Labor). The site offers networking opportunities and helps companies connect with professional organizations within their industry.
Professional Development Conferences
Many industries offer conferences or trade shows that allow companies and their team members to host a booth and market their products and services. These opportunities allow attendees to connect with business leaders and make connections that could lead to partnerships or new client relationships.
Other conferences are designed as a learning experience and are focused on all aspects impacting the industry. These conferences can be multi-day events. Attendees attend lectures, explore exhibits and network at lunches and other social events.
Every industry offers unique opportunities. Businesses and company leadership should explore all the events, conferences, and symposiums to find the best networking events for their team.
Create a Professional Development Policy Template
Networking and in-person events should become an integral part of a company’s overall strategic plan for business growth. Encourage team members to get involved in the industry and include a professional development policy in the company’s employee handbook.
Set clear expectations to the team about the importance of professional development and networking. Some companies stipulate a specific number of professional development hours that team members must accrue each calendar year. These benchmarks allow current team members and new employees to understand the company’s expectations about continuing education and professional development.
Encourage In-Person Networking and Involvement
In-person events and networking opportunities are essential to team development, camaraderie, and collaboration. Networking events and professional development opportunities enable team members to expand their industry knowledge, learn new skills and ideas, and meet new contacts within the industry. These events can help expand leads, boost morale and confidence, and allow team members to feel more connected.
Create a professional development policy and prioritize the value of face-to-face interactions. Now is the time to encourage a virtual workforce to remember the importance of in-person experiences and networking.
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Tabetha Sheaver is a CEO, certified EOS Implementer®, project management professional (PMI), and an award-winning business success partner. She helps CEOs regain control of their companies with organizational change management strategies. Helping entrepreneurial leadership teams to be open, honest, and healthy. Tabetha’s experience and insight have made her an in-demand public speaker and presenter nationwide.