In the middle of Tangiers Mall in Deer Park, a blushing ingenue was ushered into the world of Social networking at the L.I. Press’ Fortune 52 event. No fanfare, or homecoming parade, just some really tall glasses of diet coke and cold sliders. My first social corporate networking event made me feel like I was back at the playground on my first day of school, hoping to make friends. But, as nervous and unsure of myself as I felt in this situation, I managed to enjoy the proceedings, realizing that some of the guests were in the same boat I was in.
The advice I was given by a veteran networker from my LI Marketing Job Seekers club (I’ll call him “B”) was mingle, and don’t stick with your group. I managed to gravitate back towards my fellow colleagues anyway, singling them out for moral support, the way I would at a dance club, seeking out my girlfriends.
I had that “pick me” look at first, glancing around for a receptive face, and then deciding, what the hell, just make a move. My friend “C” provided comic relief throughout the evening, and “B” kept encouraging me to work the room. So, I did, and found that if I walked around the restaurant smiling at people, they’d smile back. And they did. Although,furtive glances at people’s chests trying to read names written in thick highlighter was a bit awkward. Next time, I’ll wear a real name tag, complete with company name. And hopefully, so will everyone else.
I finally felt successful as I connected with someone I’d spoken to and emailed numerous times at my previous job, but never met in person.
There was also a presentation given by Beverly Fortune which was very moving, as women who’ve made a difference, working for various causes, were honored. That night I learned about San Fillippo syndrome and Lowe’s Syndrome. The food line gave me the best opportunity I had to make friends, exchanging business cards while making small talk. The takeaway was, every new networking opportunity has the potential of either making a worthwhile contact or learning something new. I did both.