I have a confession – I really do not enjoy going to live networking events and having to mingle with a bunch of strangers. I get this knot in my stomach when it comes to discussing what I do and making small talk, not to mention a bit of unease at approaching strangers for conversation.
Do you ever feel that way?
I am that classic person who shows up with a buddy and sticks with the people they know the whole time – that feels safe and enjoyable to me. But, I end up leaving without having met any new people. So, what is the purpose of even going one might ask?
If this sounds a bit like you, I have a remedy for that feeling. It’s called a TweetUp. It is the antidote for networking jitters and it works just fine.
Tuesday night, one of my favorite clients Brookstreet Hotel held their very first TweetUp and well, it wouldn’t have looked too great if their fearless Social Media Advisor said, “I can’t make it, I have to paint my toenails,” now would it? Thankfully, one of my BFF’s, Samantha from Starfish Creative Events, offered to help out so I knew I had at least one friend to keep me comfortable!!
Ok, I exaggerate, because that was not really my reaction – quite the opposite. As soon as I found out they wanted to host a Tweet Up to meet some of the people they had been engaging with through Social Media, I was in! I called Samantha immediately to seek help, because I know a Tweet Up is not the same as one of those “typical networking events”.
I walk in and this pretty chick with a camera hanging around her neck immediately says, “Lisa!! It’s Natalie!” I look at her and think she looks a bit familiar, but she is acting like she has known me for years. And to make matters worse, I can’t quite place the name! I casually glance at her name badge and see Natalie is @ndsphotography and suddenly, it’s like seeing an old high school friend! You see, we have never met face-to-face before, but we have had tons of great conversations on Twitter.
Then, it is one person after another who I already “know” from all these conversations online and I immediately feel that I am among friends.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is definitely more than a social gathering. This gathering is more powerful than SIX WEEKS of attending your local BNI breakfast or other weekly networking group (no offense intended). Let’s take Natalie as an example:
She is a photographer, the owner of NDS Photography. She shows up and spends 95% of her time engaged in conversation with people, and about 5% taking a few photos from the event. And, each time I am within listening distance I hear people asking about her services. “Would you come to my house to take photos? Do you do pet portraits? Would you photograph my horse? Could we hire you to take pictures at an event?”
And the funny thing is, not once did she try and sell anything. She was just smart enough to carry a camera around her neck, smile brightly and engage in meaningful conversation with a lot of people.
As for my favorite client, I am so proud of them! They were gracious hosts, they went above and beyond to make people feel welcome and, not once did they as a business try and pitch any product or service. They understand the value of hosting this community and participating in this community, and they kept their focus on that the entire evening.
You see the future of business networking, in my opinion, is all in the Tweet Up. It is a place where you can go and connect with people who already know who you are and are happy to see you. No more networking jitters!!
To find a Tweet Up in your area go to www.twtvite.com and do a search where you live. Or, better yet, schedule one and invite some Twitter friends!
PS. Now for the true test of our “Social Media Friendship”. Be honest, leave me a comment and let me know, am I the only person who dreads a networking event where I don’t know anyone?? It’s ok to tell me, we’re all friends here and don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone else!