This week I had the absolute pleasure of attending an in-person networking event. It was my first in almost two years!
I have always loved networking events. I thrive in a room full of people, and while even I can be a little bit shy amongst complete strangers, I usually don't mind striking up a conversation with someone receptive, and am overjoyed when I get to learn part of their story before we have to part ways.
Usually I have no choice. I have worked in several roles in my various careers where business development was integral to my success, and networking events played a huge part of that. I understand that they're painful for some, but I'm lucky enough that they are usually a great fit.
At this event, all attendees were asked to stand up for a moment, introduce themselves and their business, and to put out an 'ask' for the room.
Most of the professionals ran small businesses in the area, and outlined the type of clients that they were looking for, as is common during such a pitch.
When my turn came, I stood up and explained that I tell stories for a living. I mentioned that I'm always looking for stories, and my ask was for anyone who was open to tell me theirs.
A few attendees were intrigued, and I made some potential networking contacts, but one in particular stood out.
As I prepared to leave the event coat in hand, a low-key gentleman sitting quietly at the bar waved me over. He was dressed casually, not wearing a nametag, and I was initially surprised that he had called me over.
He mentioned that he liked my pitch, and then gradually revealed that he ran a local digital marketing agency, and frequently collaborates with content writers. We're making plans for a more formal conversation next week.
The amazing part is that he wasn't attending the event, and didn't have any intention of networking when he stopped in for a beer. He just liked my story.
There are plenty of expressions that talk about how the world is small, and you never know who you'll run into.
To that I would add 'make sure you get their story, and make sure that they know yours.'