The Underutilized Networking Genre: The Talk
In the latest of my career conquests, I stumbled upon a sort of networking event: the talk. No, not the daytime talk show on CBS, but rather, a simple event with a speaker discussing a topic of interest to the audience. I’ve been to several professional organization meetings, board meetings, conventions, luncheons and seminars. While I was aware of the existence of these speaking engagements ( I’ve watched Sheryl Sandberg’s Ted Talk a dozen times) I didn’t really equate them with networking events.
I recently attended one such event where the editor/publisher/founder of startup women’s magazine gave a lecture on taking risks in business. The popular event, which was held in a small French restaurant, quickly sold out of its limited seating. Armed with a new batch of business cards advertising my freelancing services, I navigated my way into the crowd and was promptly invited to sit at a table with business professionals and grad students who were as thrilled to be there as I was. While dining on coffee and crepes, we listened to our presenter speak on her journey to becoming an entrepreneur in the world of magazines.
Hearing her experiences, listening to the attendees questions and comments and conversing with them afterward was both exciting and exhilarating. Handshaking and the exchanging of cards surrounded me. Attending events like these opens the door for you to meet and make connections with people from all over the business sector—ones just starting out and the ones who’ve been in the game for a while.
However the networking is just an added bonus because you are also learning new ideas and concepts from the speaker.
I walked in to the event feeling nervous, but left feeling powerful and with more business cards and invitations from various ones to have coffee and let them “pick my brain”. I came to the realization of how much I had missed out on by overlooking those emails with invitations to see key speakers. Conventions and seminars have always been on my agenda, but now, speaking events have become my newest obsession. So I say make time for them once in a while. Go with an open mind. You’ll learn a lot and make new relationships. It could change your career.