On Wednesday I spent an interesting and enjoyable evening at a Culturevist networking event. A few of my friends have been to some previous Culturevist get togethers – but this was my first one. Networking often gets a bad rap, and we’ve all been to at least one session that’s ended up as a total cringefest, it’s not just me, is it? This event was a little different, so in defence of the art of good networking, here are my first impressions of this interesting group.
On arrival I was immediately made to feel very welcome, by many people. This wasn’t an in your face, full on experience, just plenty of encouragement. Thank you to everyone who helped ease me into the swing of a new social situation.
The name badge I was invited to complete, with the addition of ‘And my favourite thing is…’ was a lovely idea. I figured I was there to meet interesting people, so my badge said ‘And my favourite thing is you’.
That dreaded intro moment
Something about networking that leaves me cold is when everyone stands up and introduces themselves to everyone else. Being a bear of small brain I struggle to remember more than about three names, and when the group is large, I also struggle to stay awake. Tom Nixon offered up a twist, and this time we were invited to simply say our name, and what we needed. This was a great idea – people’s brief responses were helpful and often funny too. Others in the group could then easily spot people they have something in common with, or someone they could be of possible use to. A lovely idea – I will look for other opportunities to try this.
Throughout the evening, a couple of people approached me who have seen me at conferences and gatherings over the past few years and had positive recollections – those interactions were really touching, motivating too, thanks. I learned from this, that when you have a positive memory of someone, It’s lovely to share it with them. They might have forgotten – I had.
Conversation without judgement
I enjoyed the subjects put up for brief talks and subsequent conversations – the theme of the evening was ‘Open Source Culture – What Happens When Everyone Has A Say?’ I didn’t agree with everything being put forward and it was lovely to have a chance to discuss differences in such a respectful way. Too often we seek to brush even the gentlest conflict to one side – I’m a huge fan of open, respectful disagreement, and I did not feel I was being judged when sharing contradictory experiences and views.
I left with a head buzzing full of ideas, having met some lovely people for the first time and caught up with a few friends. Thank you to everyone, and particularly to Matthew Partovi for making things happen.
I hope this post is useful to some of you, and if you have any more suggestions about how to make networking work, please share them in the comments. And if you’d like to see someone else’s perspective on networking, I thoroughly recommend The Quiet Man, a beautifully written blog post by Richard Martin.