During a time with a low economy and a high unemployment rate, it is more important than ever to mix and mingle with business professionals who can help you get your foot in the door at a new job, or even enhance your current career. It’s all about who you know and Connecticut is full of eager professionals looking to network and help each other out. Across the state, people from all backgrounds and industries unite at networking events to get to know new professionals in their area, expand existing business relationships and have fun all at the same time. Whether a networking group member or nonmember, Connecticut residents are invited to a wide variety of venues to be introduced to new faces and opportunities.

Hot Tomato’s
1 Union Place
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 249-5100

This popular downtown Hartford bar and restaurant is no stranger to networking events. Recently, HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs) gathered at a casual event here. A convenient location for those who work in the insurance capital of the world, Hot Tomato’s is frequented by a crowd of young professionals during the week. It is also right next to the train and bus station, making it an easy spot for those who may commute via public transit. The relaxed atmosphere makes networking easier for those troubled by nerves. HYPE even offered a raffle at its recent event, where admittance required the simple drop of a business card.

Vito’s By The Park
26 Trumbull St
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 244-2200

Although a bit more on the fancy side, Vito’s by the Park is another great option for networking in the state’s capital. Just across from the beautiful Bushnell Park, Vito’s offers classic Italian dining and a full bar. Business professionals will often meet for a drink after work, conduct business luncheons, dinners and other meetings and also host networking meetups. Valet parking is free on Thursdays and a daily happy hour is offered from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the week. Specials during happy hour include half-price appetizers, $3 drafts and $5 glasses of wine. This is a prime location for those looking to hang out with business elites for a fair price.

Related: Top Spots For A Unique Night Out In Connecticut

Thai One On
56 Whitehall Ave
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 415-4666

Referring to its venue as the place “where east meets west,” Thai One On is a place where professionals in the Mystic area can meet some new cuisine as well as networking buddies. The Mystic Chamber, which hosts monthly networking events, is featuring a “business after hours” event here on September 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $10 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Prior to the start of the event, those interested are invited to arrive at 5 p.m. for some helpful tips on how to successfully network. Remember to bring business cards as well as a non-perishable food item to donate. If you cannot make the event, no worries. Thai One On is always bustling with professionals ready to chat.

2100 Dixwell Ave
Hamden, CT 06514
(203) 248-2283

While not a restaurant unique to Connecticut, Chili’s bar and grill in Hamden has played host to New Haven-area professionals for fun and delicious networking events. Serving everything from soups and salads to Mexican favorites and flavored margaritas, Chili’s is a fun, casual, relaxed environment where everyone can have a good time while getting to know one another. No matter what your industry, you never know when various fields of business can intersect and help one another out.

Barcelona Wine Bar
971 Farmington Ave
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 218-2100

Located in the beautiful West Hartford Center, Barcelona Wine Bar is a favorite for many young professionals in the busy West Hartford and Farmington area. Always bustling, whether the weekend or a Tuesday evening, Barcelona offers a unique atmosphere, tasty tapas and an impressive wine list. Recently, Yelp, an online group which features reviews of restaurants, shops and more, hosted a “Yelp Elite” event at Barcelona. The gala included drinks and food samples in addition to belly-dancing entertainment and lessons. While it was not strictly a networking event, “Yelpers” come from all industries and are great people to network with – and they love Barcelona.

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Nicole DiCicco is multimedia specialist in Connecticut who enjoys dancing, movies and live music. She writes about all the nightlife Connecticut has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.