Photo by: M. Abanye

A while back I stumbled across this article on face to face networking. It was truly by coincidence that my spiritual leaders had a vision to start up a business professionals networking group. Out of that vision birthed the Victorious Business Professionals (V.B.P.) “Helping today’s business leaders to experience victory in their professional lives.” After reading the mission statement of this networking group I knew this would be a great place to get my feet wet in social networking offline.

Once I discovered that the first event would be a breakfast gathering, I immediately connected with the coordinator to volunteer in anyway she deemed useful. Volunteering gave me a first hand look at the business leaders who were going to attend the event and I couldn’t believe that my church housed all of these awesome people. The impressive list of entrepreneurs ranged from inventors and software designers to bakers and shoe designers. I became ecstatic as the days drew closer to the event. On the day of, I was ready to venture and network like a mad woman. I went speeding down the highway yelling “Hi-Ho Silver!” to my silver/gray (when cleaned) car. My very extroverted friend was running behind and so I would be solo to start. As soon as I walked into the event, took a look at all the people socializing, I immediately felt the urge to coward back to my car and wait for my friend. After all of the excitement and confidence building too!  As I turned to make a dash for my car I agonized over the fact that I recognized some of the faces, yet felt so imitated around so many people. Luckily I recognized what I was doing; (not valuing my own worth by assumptions and comparing) sucked it up and took a brave small step that I could handle. I walked back into the event and noticed a vendor that looked interesting, made my way to the table and listened to the presentation of the representative.

Letting her do the speaking, and watching her professionalism was just what I needed to ease into the networking mindset. Turns out she wanted mentors, sponsors, and businesses to partner with her as she empowers young women desiring to live in their purpose and calling. She thought I would be a great fit as an internet marketer for my gift basket business and surprisingly a social media consultant, (Things I’m still learning how to do productively.)Needless to say, we are now connected Facebook friends. Soon after listening to her business pitch, I found myself with small groups of people answering questions about my products and services making sure to engage with them about their businesses taking mental notes on who I needed to follow up with afterwards. My friend eventually showed up but we never networked together throughout the entire event. I confidently found my groove by starting small and working my way around to various groups of people and vendors.

By the end of the event, I had plenty of business cards with permission to send emails (very important to build a legitimate mailing list.) I found a local computer technician, honed a relationship with a nonprofit startup that I have already begun volunteer work for, and found two awesome nonprofits that I will have to do separate blogs about because they provide local resources I’m sure somebody will seriously find useful (Free entrepreneurship training including computer classes!)  So that sums up my first social networking event. I would love to hear your social event stories. Did you shy up like I did? Did you brand yourself and make awesome connections?

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