Networking or Partying: Two Events Reviewed

2 May

I had the pleasure of attending two networking events about two weeks back – one with a specific blogger focus and the other more of a diverse business and social focus.

Usual Suspectz and Elevetated Entertainment put on an event for the blogging community and the readers that love us. Held at the reworked Felix, renamed Sutra Lounge. Sutra is a nice lounge. The food was so-so. I had the calamari (a little too gummy but the sauce was good) and spinach and artichoke dip – bearable, not exceptional. Who puts cheddar cheese in their spinach dip?  The event was successful, but perhaps didn’t reach the full intended end. 

Bloggers had a chance to meet and connect. Of course, Leon was probably most successful in reaching his readers and gaining new ones. He had created a cartoon strip, essentially, that was engaging and funny as hell. Leon is a humorist for a reason; because he’s funny. VerySmartBrothas (VSB) came in a very close second. tshirts were a nice touch.  

< Here I am with the funny man, Leon.

 VerySmartBrotha, Panama Jackson >>

I met bloggers I’ve never met before, and other DC entertainment architects. That’s the problem I have with social media. I have over 1500 Facebook friends, but some of them, I’ve never met. Finally, promoter Jeremy Quarless-Cole  and I meet at the event he organized. But the majority of my networking was with other bloggers.

What did people expect from the event?  It was a valiant attempt. I think next time, people want to see bloggers do their thing, which is cool, but I think it’s unreasonable. What would be the goal of live blogging? About what? I think what people might enjoy more is a panel (short) discussion from bloggers. Many of these people are personalities, myself included.  And the wit they display in writing is the wit that people want to see and hear. Personally, I’m a better tweeter than a live blogger. What I would do is tweet from the evening with a hashtag that I would compile into a post.

But seriously, what would people expect from an event as such? Your comments appreciated. I spoke to several bloggers who would be interested in doing it again, we just need to figure out what type of format we’d use.  Below are more pictures from the night.

 PrettyBrownGirl with Panama Jackson of VerySmartBrothas.com

Me, LaToya Grant of The Natural Girl Diaries and @thePBG of  http://www.dirtyprettythangs.com/

Panama Jackson and Leon Scott, Two Top NotchBloggers
NetParty
I had big expectations for the NetParty at the ShadowRoom, which actually turned out to be the perfect location space wise, for a networking event such as this. I got the invite from a friend but ended up going alone. I tweeted from the @DCWIN account. 
My first complaint, of which there are not many, is that my name was not at the door when I arrived. Stop right there. It’s not about vanity. As a networker, I recogzine the importance of capturing your audeince. People took the time to register, they expect to see their names at the front. And for follow-up reasons, how will I stay in contact with the organization and be informed of future events if I apparently never made it on their lists. So that was my first #netparty tweet.

At events like these, you cannot be afraid to meet strangers. I knew only two people at the NetParty, one of whom I’d never met before, in real life. 
So, again, social media can be deceiving, but I had a chance to connect with a colleague I had never met before. We spoke about online networking. Tambra Stevenson, a health professional, offered the following about online networks, the direction I want to take DC WIN. Online networking has the advantage of time efficiency. 
Networking can be more focused to your audience. A the same time, you’re able to cast a wider net by mere nature of social media. While you can do a lo of vetting of your colleagues online, I would caution against incompletely formed opinions. So again, there’s nothing like meeting the people you’ve connected with online.   
I’ve found that people who attended #NetParty came for multiple reasons. Some come to make friends, to expand their networks, to seek alternative job opportunities, and to hook up. (Yes, it’s inevitable). 

The format of NetParty is intended to maximze networking. Attenddes slect their industry and label themselves accordingly. While normally, I would find that limiting, most found it made it easier to network with professionals in their field. I assume it’s all up to you and based on your individual needs. Julio, a loan officer that I met, goes to networking events and generally sees the same people. A group of black women segregated themselves in a corner, which prompted me to ask the question, should you even attend networking events with people you know?
Photo Credit: Netparty.com
Another attendee commented that “events like these get old if not done right,” NetParty, a traveling network event, provided food sponsored by Buco de Beppo. The Italian food was plentiful and tasty and it lasted until about 8pm. NetParty  was also careful to control the music; there was a DJ for the entire evening. They attempted to keep the music at a reasonable level as to facilitate networking. I give them props for trying, but this is where events and promoters tend to fail. I’d rate that NetParty was moderately successful in this regard. 

The crowd was incredibly diverse – from race and ethnicity, to profession. Attendees were Indian, Hispanic, Black, White, students, lawyers, engineers, educators and health professionals. 
Photo Credit: Netparty.com

I would count both events as successes. I beamed inside when folks mentioned that they had heard of my blog;  I gave it a catchy name on purpose.  I made new connections with promising contacts and solidified tenuous relationships. The value comes in the follow up. 
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3 Responses to “Networking or Partying: Two Events Reviewed”

  1. Jeff Strank May 22, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    Thanks for the review and your thoughts. Not sure what to say about your name not being on the list – we had 655 RSVPs for that event but I just checked the list again and you weren't on it (?) Perhaps something went wrong with the RSVP process (did you receive a RSVP confirmation)? In any event, I apologize for any problems getting in.We specifically bring in our DJs and control the music ourselves for the reasons you mentioned – we want the event to be fun but we want people to be able to talk easily (after all, that is the point). Unfortunately, that venue, while very nice, had what we call a "tough room" for the kind of events we do. The sound of the large crowd was cacophonous, so in order to have the music heard at all, you had to make it louder than we would have liked. We did the best we could but it wasn't easy in that space to have a little bit of vibe without the music being too loud. In short (well, too late for that), the acoustics weren't ideal for the kind of event we offer.Anyway, just a view from the other side. I appreciated your thoughtful writeup.Jeff StrankFounderNetParty

    • OriginalNajeema June 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

      Thanks so much Jeff for finding my post and taking the time to comment. That, as far as networking goes, and perhaps you will agree, goes very far. My post was meant to question all networking events, and I think NetParty did a very good job of attaining it’s goals. I applaud you. Thanks again for your comments.

  2. Jeff Strank May 22, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    P.S. Nice pics!

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