ll archives: How to Host Your Own Networking Event
As the old saying goes, it's all about who you know. One contributor shares the fun way she grew her professional network. We all want to meet new people. And the career-minded among us know how important who you know is to your professional success.
But meeting new people, especially as an adult, is often easier said than done. Sometimes, we just don’t know how.
After having quite a few casual talks over coffee with many amazing, driven ladies, I realized that we all faced similar issues as we tried to build meaningful relationships, overcome challenges, and create positive experiences in our careers and lives. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create a platform where people would feel comfortable enough to be themselves and open up to one another like we did over coffee.
I pitched the idea to a couple of my close girlfriends and the response was overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic. Many of them already wanted to do something like this—they just didn’t know where to start.
To be fair, neither did I. My immediate thought was to host a brunch. Because who doesn’t like brunch? I have also found that bonding over food (especially with great company!) has always forged lasting memories and new friendships.
I hosted my first networking brunch at a friend’s house. Initially, I expected about 10 women would show up, but this number soon doubled and included women spanning across industries from academia to business, and entertainment to fashion.
Some were well-established, some were just getting their feet off the ground, and some were in the middle of a career transition—but they were all incredibly fearless, strong, and driven women. And I was honored to get women from different industries together, to swap stories and share their knowledge.
Regardless of our individual experience, we were all navigating leadership, entrepreneurship, and the pursuit of some work-life balance, whether as professors, business owners, marketers, screenwriters, actors, bloggers, non-profit founders, and so on.
I had read a Career Contessa article that espoused vulnerability and how it helps us better connect with others—and it couldn’t be more true, as I believe it helped set the mood for my event.
I had every guest fill out an RSVP card ahead of time, with their name, career, and something silly or fun specific to them. It helped everyone loosen up and identify with something other than their career.
I also asked each guest: “If you could give one piece of advice to somebody, what would it be?” and placed the words of wisdom on every place setting. I strongly believe in empowering one another, especially since we are all capable of doing so.
I was surprised (and, at the same time, not surprised) that everybody got along so well—often, it seemed that people knew each other already! Conversations flowed organically, as everybody mingled around food and talked about their passions. There were even moments where we circled up and some of the girls gave very empowering speeches to the whole group.
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At first, I thought I might be a little crazy for taking this project on, but I was inspired by the women I read about on Career Contessa, and received an overwhelming amount of support from friends and attendees.
For me, this entire experience has reinforced the power of community, taking initiative, and taking leaps of faith. If you want something, go after it. If you see a need for something, create the solution. Somebody has to fill the need. Why not you?
We are all capable of doing amazing things; we just have to get past our self-created barriers of doubt and fear. I believe that when we begin to really fulfill ourselves and aspire to be better women—better human beings—we inspire others to do the same.
Sometimes we just need a little encouragement, and a great support system of friends and female mentors who know exactly what you’re going through—and are ready to support you and cheer you on.