By Aolani Donegan
Social Media Specialist
The News & Observer Publishing Co.
The Young Professionals Network programs committee is a brave group. They continue to push the envelope with program ideas that make YPN exciting, but the vision needed to execute this idea that included more than a hundred people, moving and meeting each other in a speed-dating type of way, was outside of most conventional boxes, and it was fabulous.
Keynote speaker Phillip Frye spoke about the importance of networking to build relationships. His tips included suggestions for tomorrow's leaders. How do you become a super-connector? Well, if you follow Phillip's tips and arrive early, do your homework, and look for connections, you will be well on the path to building lasting relationships.
His presentation pumped up the audience. We had our stack of business cards; but, wait, what? You're telling me we have to move two seats to the right every two minutes? Whose crazy idea was this?
As the noise level rose and people leaned in to learn about the person sitting across from them, a beautiful thing occurred. People were connecting and sharing an experience that was unique and memorable. As we took notes and collected business cards, it was easy to see that we are more alike than we are different. We all have these interesting stories about how we got to the table and where we hope to go. One of Phillip's tips to keep your business cards in one pocket and the ones you collect in another suddenly made perfect sense. Who wants to shuffle through a deck of business cards? Oh, these tips were like liquid gold. I saw people engaging in a way that was so exciting! The experiment worked! Hats off to the programs team!
One of Phillip's tips is to follow up. My hope is that everyone follows up with an email or invitation for coffee after each program, but especially after networking roulette. Your network grows as you water each connection. You never know who your connection knows and how that relationship will impact your future growth.
My hope is the programs committee will do a "Networking Roulette" workshop every quarter. Despite losing my voice, I couldn't help but look around to recognize that the room was filled with leaders that are making a meaningful impact on their community at work and by attending YPN events.