Tag Archives: networking

How to be “that guy” at a networking event.

17 Jan

Hi all

It occurred to me that I haven’t written about events in a while and as I have many networking events coming up, I thought it might be good to touch base with the “events” side of my life. Furthermore, last week I attended a networking event and thought it was a great event.  For the first time in my post-grad experience, however, I felt like “that guy” at a networking event. Why, do you ask? Well, because I spilled MY WATER glass at the bar which enticed looks from both the bartender and one of the ladies working the event. I reiterate – I SPILLED MY WATER GLASS. Still, I started to feel self-conscious that they thought I was tipsy. Now, ordinarily I couldn’t be bothered with stares from complete strangers. But, I was at a networking event representing the business, and so no matter how much I don’t care what people think about me personally, I certainly care what they think about me professionally.

Over the next few days, I re-played the incident in my head and would do a slight head shake with a cringe at the thought of other people thinking I would be dumb enough to get tipsy at a networking event of all places. But then I thought, there are a few people who are dumb enough to do certain things (including getting tipsy) at a networking event. So, here’s my humorous take on all our favorite guys at networking events. (FYI – I use “that guy” to refer to both genders…shoot me.)


1. THAT GUY who is Tipsy. (haha) Okay, I have to start with this one. This is just my personal rule, but especially if you are a “light weight” like I know I am, cut yourself off after two drinks. No excuses. Whether you are representing yourself as a freelancer, your employer, a service, etc, you’re there for business, and business etiquette applies. (Tip – if you do happen to accidentally SPILL YOU WATER GLASS, don’t try to prove anything to anyone by ordering more drinks; continue your networking as discretely as possible and when you get a window of opportunity, walk out of there with your head held high…)

2. THAT GUY who is Pigging Out. You are not at an all-you-can-eat buffet no matter how much food they are serving or how hungry you are, control yourself.  Eat as if your current or future employer is in the same room as you. There is just no excuse for this one.

3. THAT GUY who thinks they’re on Dr. Phil. I understand that sometimes it feels great to just talk about your feelings especially after a hard day at work. But talking about your life problems when you first meet someone is not a good way to make business connections. Period.

4. THAT GUY who believes it’s LIVE Match.com. Now, with respect to the fact that people meet people to date anywhere and everywhere, I don’t want to tell you not to “look for love” at a networking event. Still, remember that your professional self is being represented and would your professional self be checking people out and flirting like you’re on a dating show?  (If you answer yes to this question, we may need to have a chat about your professional self.)

As someone who has inadvertently been “that guy,” it’s not fun at all. So do try and remember what you want to portray when you are at a professional event. Still, sometimes you just have to laugh things of. Speaking of, does anyone have any good stories about “that guy” at a networking event? I would love to add to my list.




Standing out: what’s your story?

10 Oct

With 7 billion people in the world, it can sometimes be a little hard to stand out.  I suppose you can go Yao Ming’s route and literally “stand out” but for many of us that ship has sailed. In life, we want to stand out but more relevantly, in the workplace and in the search for a workplace, we need to stand out.

The statistics are often debated but somewhere around 6.7% of the word has a college degree. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/19/percent-of-world-with-col_n_581807.html ) If you live in the United States, I believe the figure is around 26%. Now, for the sake of argument let us assume that 5% of that 26% hold the same degree as you and of that 5%, 1% are directly competing with you for a job. Let us assume that the figure you arrive at is 800,000 people. Daunting isn’t it? Well, there are two things we can do. The first is to give up mentally and assume that it’s all luck. The second is to consider the following serious tips that I have received from different professionals including my professors, friends, colleagues and mentors as well as Nicole, the founder of www.mscareergirl.com who is keeping me busy as the events coordinator.

1. YOUR RESUME AND COVER LETTER must be up to par, at least. Thanks to Nicole,  my brother and  my brother’s friend Jon, I know what a good cover letter and resume consist of: accuracy, conciseness and personality. What is personality? It is the professional demeanor that is reflected when you write. There are a plethora of resume resources on the internet. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM. Most of them are free anyway. If you live in the Chicago area, you definitely want to check these guys out: http://betterresumes.com/locations.html Also, ask your HR and management pals to look at your resume. They are the ones who do the hiring so they will see things differently and different is good.

2. YOUR INTERVIEW SKILLS must be relentless. Luckily for me, I have always had the gift of gab so shyness in an interview is not my problem. However, I have found that practice is the problem. I think having a good friend or family member do some research about the company and ask you questions as if you were in a real interview is a good way to practice. Some people even suggest doing interviews for jobs you will NEVER take, as another way to practice. Above all, asking people you have interviewed with about how you can improve is best. Sure, it’s awkward to go crawling back to the people who rejected you but it’s worth it to know what the “other side” is thinking of you in an interview.

3. YOUR STORY. This is the most important one. One may think that “oh, there is nothing special about me” but you simply have to build on your strengths. There is one or two things that you have done in school or in a job or as an athlete or blogger that you can be proud of and should be proud of. Your story is what really separates you from “the others.” I will say being in America as an international student who has always been a foreigner seems to work for me. It works that I graduated high school early, that I came up with “Drake Haiti Relief” on my university campus, that I speak a few languages and that I am willing to blow my own trumpet.

None of the above things are anything special in the sense that none of them are novel. However, when I explain my story to people I show them how all of the mentioned examples give me a global perspective on the marketplace, show leadership in small things which show a willingness to do the small things. I tell them living as a nomad has always made it easy for me to learn quickly and to connect with people easily in order to survive and thrive in a place. What’s the point? It’s my story and I tell it like it’s the best story ever.

I believe too that you can stand out and make your “story better” by learning from other people. So, especially for all you social media and marketing junkies, here’s a FREE event that you might want to check out if you’re in the Chicago area on October 12th: Womma’s “Wine Wednesday” http://womma.org/events/category/wine-wednesday/and register here: http://chicagowinewed.eventbrite.com/ Womma is the leading voice for ethical and effective Word of Mouth and Social Media Marketing.

As always, I would love to know your feedback. What’s your story? What makes you different? What makes any of us stand out to employers and what should we do to stand out more?



The “3 must have’s” of an eventmarketingrookie :

6 Oct

Upon reflecting about being part of the event planning process for MsCareerGirl.com  September connect and now looking ahead to planning the November 17th connect and a holiday party for December, I have to say there are certain things an event marketing rookie needs.

Firstly, I would like to point out that at some point everybody is an event planner. Have you ever planned someone’s birthday? Bridal shower? Baby shower? Or maybe a football viewing party or a local fundraising event? Many times even at your job you may have to put together a networking meeting, an office meeting, a dinner of some sort, or one thing or the other that needs an event planning touch. So, whether it is your job or aspiring job 😉 or something that you only do once in a blue moon, here’s my two cents on the “3 must have’s”:

1. Every eventmarketingrookie needs a planner. It sounds simple but it cannot be said enough. Planning is about 85% of an event. I definitely believe that to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. Use your computer, use your phone, use a hard copy planner; I actually recommend using all three if you can. Whatever you do make sure you have your dates, your times, your goals and all that jazz WRITTEN DOWN. Simple as that. That said, what is your favorite way to keep your event together? Are you more of a paper and pen person or is your smart phone indeed your “life?”

2. Every eventmarketingrookie needs a network. What does this mean? Well, it means that you know someone who can give you a good discount on a rented location. It means you have built a great relationship with your local flower shop. You are making good friends with caterers and food service personnel. You are going to events to meet people in your profession. You are meeting people who have nothing to do with your profession but who are taking an interest in you and your events because you are taking an interest in them. Meet people. Meet people. Meet people. Do it at your coffee shop and at the local bar or hangout. Do it at the gym, at your place of worship, and yes do it on twitter.  Go on http://www.meetup.com/ and see what everyone is doing around you! A good way to have people remember you too is to carry your business cards everywhere you go and be sure to take theirs and email them within 48 hours or you will be forgotten! It’s not easy to do this. In fact it is scary and difficult. It takes courage and practice.  Nonetheless, I am convinced that you just never know who you’ll be lucky enough to meet when you just have some confidence to say “hi” and with a smile of course. Am I missing anything?

3. Thirdly, every eventmarketingrookie needs an entourage. Think of the hit TV series Entourage which I must admit I never really followed too closely. One thing I do know is that anytime there was something major, the whole group or entourage was there. In other words, make sure you know people who are going to do their best to be at whatever  event you are planning.  This could be your family, your current or former classmates, your colleagues, etc.  You need a solid group of people that you know have your back and will not only show up, but will show up with people. Now, if you are lucky enough to have a notorious social butterfly in your network, thank your lucky stars! If you don’t, well, make friends with one and if you have it in you, become one!  The reality is if  building a network is hard, multiply the difficulty level by ten and that is  how tough it is to build an entourage. It takes time, patience and a lot of personal investment in other people. Let me be clear: your entourage is part of your network but your network is not your entourage. An entourage, however, can be redemption when the chips are down because an entourage always shows up!

So, how far am I with these three? Well, I must say I have the first one practically perfected and I am working really hard for the other two. I am trying to go to meet ups, I’ve found a free monthly membership at a gym, and of couse through MsCareerGirl.com and all the people Nicole knows, I am meeting people. Through hard work, persistence and patience though, I am sure I will get to where I want to be. It does help that I have an interesting story and that I am willing to tell it! Most importantly, I believe everyone has a story too thus I am willing to listen. While  we are on the subject of meeting people, if you live in or around the Chicago area, below are a couple of events that are good places to start this weekend and one save the date. But before I give you those, let me know: what are your top 3 things for event planning? And if you have any other great ideas for how to go about meeting people or cool events coming up, let me know and I’ll add it to the post.




Chicago Film Festival October 6th-20th http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/

Chicago Marathon October 9th http://www.chicagomarathon.com/cms400min/chicago_marathon/

Chicago’s “Little  India”  October 7th  8p.m. Sher Punjab Indian Restaurant http://www.meetup.com/Ethnic-BYOB/events/32216302/

Wine tasting through all of October http://languedocadventure.com/events/chicago/

SAVE THE DATE: VelvetStyle Social Mixer, October 16th 2p.m.-5p.m. at the D.O.C Wine Bar, Lincoln Park

And the event was….

3 Oct

In one word: successful! Firstly, I have to apologize for not keeping up my goal of not letting a week pass by before I post. Its been far more than that. This time, I have no real excuse but a lack of motivation. Last week was rough. If you’ve ever been through a job hunt, you know what I mean. It was “one of those weeks” but I managed to pick myself up and get back on my feet over the weekend. What can I say: even the best fall down sometimes, right?

Anyway, the 9.22 event went extremely well. Sure there were glitches such as the microphone having trouble and then there was no  LIVE streaming due to the location in the process of changing something in its internet service but as I said in my last post, expect the unexpected.  All in all,  we had over 90 RSVPs and there were approximately over 80 people there. But more importantly, everyone had a wonderful time and those are the things that good events are made of. Here are couple of pictures and their tags to show you what I mean:

First of all below we have Nicole Crimaldi, the founder of MsCareerGirl.com  and the host of the event. She was charming, hilarious and real. She came up with the theme “Personal Finances” because it’s an awkward topic that a lot of people tend to run away from! (Classic Nicole, always saying what everyone is thinking.) She also chose it because it is necessary to talk about personal finances as a young professional and with her wit, the pill of personal finances talk was swallowed well.

Then, there was the awesome panel. The ladies who were on our panel worked in finance, real estate and  insurance. My favorite was a Dami Olotu who I met a few weeks earlier. Dami works for Nationwide Mutual as Financial Representative (She’s the girl you want to call to plan out your short and long-term financial goals.) But here are the lovely ladies whose seats were reserved:

Then, there were the lovely gift bags (which I got to arrange and greet people with) that contained some goodies for the ladies to take home with them. But really, the bag was the best goodie if you ask me:






….And here I am with some of our gift bag arrangements: (Believe it or not, I was doing work. Well, I guess it doesn’t feel like work when it’s FUN)






Then there was the lovely food. Below are some lovely desserts from the Twisted Cookie (which you will be hearing more about soon.) I tried one of these…okay, it was more like three or four but I was hungry and they were amazing. Feel free to order directly from Joana at http://www.thetwistedcookie.com/

The location too was amazing. It was the perfect, “anything fun and social takes place here “feel.” So if you’re looking for that social place or to host a private event, I suggest going to http://www.proofchicago.com/ and checking them out yourself. What’s the name, you ask? Read below:





One person’s pic I wish I could tag is Joy Turner, the girl behind these photos. Her day job is an accountant but her “hobby” as a photographer is very impressive. So if you need a good photographer for a wedding, fashion or a real life event, reach out to Joy at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joy-T-Photography/260652467294566?sk=info

So, there you have it. Now what is the eventmarketingrookie up to next? Well, first of all, a lot more LinkedIn applications, a couple of interviews coming up and some meetings with recruiters. But it’s not all work, work, work 🙂  MsCareerGirl.com has got two more events this year: another networking/panel coming up in November and a holiday party in December that I will be helping to plan. I guess you could say I am an official part of the team. Finally, I have a pretty SWEET project I’m working on for my next local businesses entry so stay tuned and as always, tell me what you think about my post, what I am doing right or wrong and how you measure the success of an event that you attend!