On Tuesday night, June 25, 2013, I attended Cocktails and Connections networking event hosted by Renae Bluitt, editor of “In Her Shoes Blog,”. It was my first networking event I have attended in a long time, I was a little nervous. With everything that happened on the day including getting a flat tire, I was a little overwhelm by the time I walked in the doors of “The Polish Bar,” a chic nail salon in the heart of Brooklyn NY, owned by Tricia Lee.
I met with the host Renae Bluitt, I told her that I was new at this, “but I will get in the swing of things,” I said. As I said it, I thought to myself, maybe I was too honest. It was too late, even with us standing next to the DJ and his speakers she heard everything and smiled. Thank God she was down to earth and told me not to worry about it soon the guest speakers will be up and I would get some great advice on how to work the room.
The panel of powerful trend-setters include; owner of Polish Bar Tricia Lee, Nicole Melton of ESSENCE.com, Tia Williams of “Shake Your Beauty “and “The Fly Cut,” Anu Prestonia of “Khamit Kinks” and “Anu Essentials,” Celebrity Hairstylist Ursula Stephen, Makeup Artist Camera “AUnique” Beauty, Ylorie Anderson of First Choice Sales and Brown Girl Marketing, and T. Bernie of COCOACHiC.
After listening to women who have made a name for themselves with a leap of faith and passion to do what they love, I was encouraged to go hard or go home. I hustle to speak to the women on the panel, in between waiting for my turn I interacted with other woman in the room; Danalee Francesca is a Fashion Law Attorney, Tyneisha K. Jones of 144th and Vine, and Merrell-Ayana Walters founder of MAW consulting group to name a few.
My experience making new connections taught me something’s about networking.
- Be prompt: You never know what you are missing out on if you are not there. Honestly I thought to myself a half an hour late would be okay because it is a networking event. I was wrong, my idea of coming in 30 minutes quickly turned into 45 minutes. When I arrived the place was full, with just enough room towards the back.
- Be camera ready: Everywhere you look someone was taking pictures with their phones and or cameras. I watched as the photographer, Molaundo Jones of The Clever Agency, capture women way across the room.
- Your not there to eat: I wanted so bad to have more than one of those delicious cupcakes, but I did not. As soon as I put one in my mouth, I realize that I did not want to worry about crumbs on my face or smear lipstick so I did not eat any more. They served a light cocktail, but I did not want to drink myself happy, so I had one for social experience.
- Have business cards that represents your best: Two things happened to make me think, the obvious is not always so obvious. A young lady gave me a business card and she apologized for the appearance, as I looked at the black lines that cross out some information on the card. It was not appealing and nothing on the card told me what she does. Then I could not help but to notice a woman giving Rene Buillet a post card that she did not know what to do with because she did not have a bag to put it in. Lesson four, make sure that your business cards, have all the important information, in a clear presentation and size does matter, your business cards need to fit in a pocket.
- Know what you want to talk about: I knew when I spoke to Nicole Melton I wanted to talk about getting in the writing business without internships. However I had to admit, I did not know if I wanted to sale, Iris the writer or A.K.A MISSI the blog. I tried both ways and found that when I told people that I write, they asked about what and that list of things seem long, but when I said my blog and my 5 seconds speech about the blog, people got it and want to know more. So it is important to find out what you want talk about before you hit the networking scene.
That night I remember something that I always knew, networking is work. Although the scene had a party atmosphere with cocktails, great music and only standing room, it was business and the women there meant business. Everything matters from eye contact to business cards, you always want to represent your best. Don’t forget after you put your best foot forward, have fun, be social and enjoy the people around you. Renae Bluitt said it best, “just be yourself!”
For more pictures of the event go to A.K.A MISSI instagram