Originally uploaded by Mercy Corps Northwest
So, a confession. I’ve become the person at Mercy Corps Northwest charged with making networking events happen, but… networking is not my thing. It always feels like an artificial situation where people behave unnaturally and are uncomfortable, or at least I am.
But, each of these networking events at MCNW, and this is the third so far, are teaching me that the important principle in networking is that it’s a way to help bring people and resources together and make good things happen.
Our whole foray into this realm started with Darcy Avalon, who took one of our Foundations classes in the fall and has been a regular at many of our other classes. Like many of our participants, she said that one of the most valuable aspects of the classes was meeting fellow small business owners. With her event planning help, we did our first networking event in our office classroom in December, bringing in her friend Kyrstyn Pixton to help us with some music. People brought their food and their families and their products to vend, and we saw a whole new dynamic that there isn’t always time for during a class. We did a second one in February, and this time, we asked our friend Chris Bucci to come in and talk about his experience developing the Heart in Oregon stickers, and Adrienne Hatkin of Autopilot is for Lovers to share her music.
And now in April, we did our third one. This time we were able to connect with Lewis Childs, who helped us get the event set up at our neighborhood coffee shop Floyd’s, and who brought in his musical partner Sophie Bloch to help him provide some music for the evening. My co-worker Jinell from MicroMentor led a speed networking activity to get people talking and moving, with the help of Rachel, one of our loan officers, and our friend Jesse from the Action Center. And to top it all off, Mykel Hibbard of Tabor Photo came in and took beautiful photos of the whole thing, which you can see on Facebook and Flickr.
So there you go: networking through planning networking events. It’s been heartwarming to see what people do to help you when you reach out to them, and the wonderful results that come about through all of that natural, comfortable, and just plain good… networking.