I thought to blog about this because I go to a lot of networking events and not all of them are great. A large part of what makes an event great or not is how we use our time at those events. I confess I could have used my time more wisely at some of these events. Anyway, this isn’t a post about networking event dos and don’ts (this post is though), but I thought others might be experiencing the same feeling of dissatisfaction so I thought I would share my most recent experience. Thus, to blog.
I went to a networking event yesterday afternoon that was put on by the Portland Business Alliance called Lunch with Leaders. It’s an event series where members can attend a lunch talk with local city, regional and state leaders. The speaker this time was Tom Hughes, president of our regional governing body out here, Metro.
I arrived late to the event and there wasn’t a single person I knew in attendance. Sometimes I need to find shelter in a familiar face for a few minutes before moving on to new people and yesterday was one of those days. So I was immediately thrown off my game, I didn’t get to ask my very important question about how community gardens figured into the long-term regional development plan because some guy wouldn’t stop talking, and then everyone scattered as soon as the event was over. Extreme frustration. That’s what I felt.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Amber, you’re whining. The point?” Yes, yes, the point.
The point is that after I walked out of the air-conditioned conference room, I stood in the sun outside the building (a rarity in Portland. The sun, that is, not the building.) and thought about anything else I could do downtown while I was there. It turns out that two wayward clients had offices within a 10-minute walk of where I was standing. You see where this is going?
I stopped by the offices of these clients and when they gave me that, “Um, what are you doing here? Did we have a meeting?” look, I told them that I was in the area for an event that had just finished and I just wanted to stop by and say hi. Their confused forehead wrinkles turned into smooth smiles and I chatted with each of them for 5-10 minutes before wishing them a good day and leaving.
It was great. I felt immeasurably better afterwards and hey, maybe now those wayward clients will change their wayward ways.
So, the lesson to be learned from this story is that when unsatisfactory networking events give you lemons, make lemonade; when they give you eggs, make an omelet; when they give you oranges, just peel them and eat them on the spot.