Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a networking event hosted by The Seattle Chamber of Commerce. This event was sponsored by YPN, Seattle’s Young Professional Network. YPN is the premier group In Seattle, providing professional development and networking opportunities for emerging business leaders. They offer monthly events designed to give young leaders the opportunity exchange ideas, grow professionally and share common interests. Their goal is to have events in the hip, hidden gems of Seattle. This particular event was at Unexpected Productions Theatre behind the iconic gum wall! I have walked by this wall numerous times and was unaware of a theatre behind this sticky Seattle monstrosity. This event featured food, drinks and an improv comedy show.
This was my first networking event, initially, I felt a little like I was the one doing the improv. The concept of going to a place full of people you do not know and trying to meet as many as possible was new to me. Much like an improv comedian, I had to think on me feet and enter a whole new environment with an entirely new “crowd.” After my first introduction I became aware that everyone else was there for the same reason and they actually wanted to meet and talk with me. I enjoyed sharing a little bit about The Fearey Group and what we do, as well as hear what other people do at their companies. The environment was very welcoming and laid back, with great pizza.
As I reflect on the event, there are a number of takeaways. I am used to a very conversational form of communication when I meet and talk with people; I want to hear their whole story and connect on a deep level. I’ve realized that at a networking event like this, where time is limited, you can’t spend all of your time talking with one person. Finding the right time to say “well it was great to meet you” is a skill that I definitely need to master. In such a diverse group, finding the right people to talk to can also be a challenge. At YPN events, the businesses that attend are largely service based (Law, IT, Accounting, etc.) so it is important to target the businesses you would like to connect with. Going into a networking event with a plan will help that time be more efficient and productive. One last takeaway would be to relax and have a great time. All the people who come to these events are there after work just like you and what’s wrong with sitting back and enjoying some improv comedy with new people? At my next networking event I’ll leave the improv to the professionals.