I was invited to a couple events hosted by Councilwoman Blondell Brown, and I’ll be honest – I was nervous/intimidated about going. Politics have never been an interesting topic to me (does a House of Cards obsession count? Loving the First Dog?), and although public speaking doesn’t bother me, it does when I’m not familiar with the topic. Once a week through March, the Councilwoman held leadership & development programs at City Hall, where women can bring lunch and listen to qualified speakers. I went to the event that discussed networking – how to do it, how to build your network, and how to not be a stalker. I learned a lot in that short hour, so much that I was furiously scribbling in my notebook the whole time! Some of my favorite take-aways were:
- You don’t have to take everyone to dinner. Coffee & breakfast are awesome alternatives, especially if the person you’re inviting has a busy schedule. To make it special, invite them to a nice restaurant rather than a Starbucks, etc. Coffee at the Ritz Carlton doesn’t cost much more than at Starbucks, but the ambiance is so much nicer!
- The person you want to meet with might not have an hour, and you could miss out on an opportunity to sit with them if you ask for too much time. Try asking for small increments of time first – “Can we meet for 10 minutes Tuesday morning over coffee to discuss XYZ?” will get you farther because it isn’t as huge a commitment. Make sure to be direct about what you’d like to talk about!
- Focus on cultivating rich relationships – some of the best relationships can take years to build, but the pay-off is worth it for both parties!
- And while you’re cultivating, don’t be a stalker! Reach out in different ways, but don’t be overwhelming. It’s acceptable to email a couple times, then call once or twice, but after that look for other ways to be re-acquainted. Do you know someone that can reintroduce you?
I’m so glad I went – it was amazing to be in the room with so many professional women!
With Diane Robinette (Speaker, President of Lead2Results), Kimberly Reed (Speaker, CEO of Reed Development Group), Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown (Host)
The following week, I attended a networking event at Public House, where we could practice the networking skills we learned the week before. Of course, I was out of business cards for my blog because I was in the middle of redesigning them, but had a stack of cards from my regular job. It was a crazy whirlwind of activity – so many women turned up! I sat through a round of speed networking, and while overwhelming, was insanely fun & I met the most interesting women!
With Councilwoman Brown (Host) and Danielle Jeter (Owner, Affairs of Isis)