This past week I attended two different “networking” or social events. One was a chamber like event and the other was the Mashable/Social Media Week party Friday night in SF. Not long ago you would be hard pressed to find me at either of these events but I have really become more of a social being this last year or two. Why did this occur?
- The economy tanked and I had time to think about such things.
- I read a blog article by Guy Kawasaki about Schmoozing.
- I read a book called “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi.
My eclectic reasons
I think among the list the economy tanking is the most self-explanatory. As the owner of what had been a growing IT services business a sudden interruption in that growth led to more time on my hands. The Guy Kawasaki thing dates way back to a suggestion that came from my friend Patrick Lee, now CEO of Rotten Tomatoes YEARS ago. Patrick gave me some great suggestions of books I could read as the owner of a technology business. Among them was Guy Kawasaki’s book Rules for Revolutionaries. Of course it took one more catalyst, this happened to be from neighbor and friend JP McDermott who reminded me that Guy had a blog and that it was great – which is where I found and read the schmoozing article. Ok, so now you know how I found the article but why was it instrumental in making me more social? The answer is quite simple – because guy tells you to give and help others. This was something I could do, naturally, daily and consistently. Never Eat Alone was the nail in the coffin for my anti-social positions. One thing in particular, when Keith recounts the story of the guy getting choked up about everyone forgetting his birthday – except Keith, really struck a chord with me. You see I am that guy, the one that sees one person struggling and can’t help but reach out and offer at least a smile and a bit of encouragement. I was dead set on being more social and connecting with more people.
Why I wrote this article
Now on to the meat of the story, the real reason I wanted to write this article. I had interesting experiences at these events that I feel I have a unique perspective to share with the world. My hope is that people who are both part of the positive experiences I had and negative or just similar in their presence at these events will benefit. Most memorable among my experiences (actual names and specific details often omitted to protect the innocent and guilty):
- The over aggressive Bank Sales VP.
- The old acquaintance.
- The Gimmick Lady.
- The loner.
- The high energy dreamer.
- The over aggressive Social Media Tool person.
The Over Aggressive Bank Sales VP
So you’ve probably heard of “that guy”. You know the one you’re not supposed to be. Well this guy was “that guy”. The banking business is evidently extremely aggressive on the sales side of things. Don’t call me, I’ll call you. This guy approached me and my “old acquaintance” (see part 2) and could not wait to sell us his services. It was really bad, almost laughable, I could not believe it. It will be hard for me to take that company seriously again, he so poorly represented them. He was sure of himself, had no problem asking for the sale. Someone back at the bank loves him, but not me.
The old Acquaintance
This is one of the great things about any social event. I was able to reconnect and have a fine conversation with someone I knew briefly through Toastmasters. Very nice guy, quality conversation and I am happy to be back in touch. Class act and I hope we are able to maintain a connection.
The Gimmick Lady
She had a gimmick to give you a sample of her product and a business card. She also approached a group of us and executed the gimmick. While personally not my style I respect her courage and willingness to be out there, trying to make things happen. It wasn’t over the top by any means. I sent her a nice follow up email because I wanted to encourage her to keep doing what she is doing. It did not seem like the approach was by any means second nature to her.
The Loner (Loners?)
This was at the Mashable party Friday night. I had arrived maybe 5-10 minutes, was checking Twitter, etc, as that seemed like “the thing to do” at a Mashable event. Then I noticed another guy just hanging out by himself. He was, like me, at this event alone so we shared at least one thing in common. I approached him and we had a pretty decent conversation going. I think this guy will be an entrepreneur one day, and I hope to encourage him to pursue that dream so I will be following up periodically. That is when the high energy dreamer showed up.
The High Energy Dreamer
She was great, full of energy joined the conversation and really kicked things in to high gear. She had just learned about 20 minutes before she arrived that her dream of having a certain job at a certain company had been fulfilled. She was riding on a natural high and passing on that positive energy with many people. I checked out her blog and I find her story very inspiring and humorous. Definitely a great person to connect with and I will probably keep in touch because I love to hear about happy endings and people winning.
The Over Aggressive Media Tool Person
When you’re having a conversation with someone else and someone comes along with the business cards already in hand, brace yourselves. This was very similar to “that guy” but in this case it was “that girl”. Please don’t be that girl/guy. You are the reason I didn’t want to be at events like this until I realized there were other reasons to go and much better philosophies and ideas about how relationships work with human beings in business or personally.
What I took away from the experiences
- Pride – that my comfort zone is much broader.
- Joy – making connections with new friends.
- Inspiration – watching people try and do.
- Happiness – helping others.
So I am not sure how this article will resonate with readers, but I truly hope that it helps you find what I’ve found and perhaps get you to go outside your comfort zone. The Mashable party was a spur of the moment thing. I learned about it and decided to go very late Friday afternoon. Please let me know what you think.