I have never gone to a networking event. Most of my networking has come from sending out emails or talking at events. But at NCPH 2011, there was a speed networking event. I would sit at a table with another network participant and a public history professional and we would talk for about 10 minutes about what it is we are doing and what we are interested in. About a week before hand, participants were given a list of folks to meet with and we would decide who we wanted to talk to. Loved that concept because it made my life sooo much easier. I wanted to talk to everybody but couldn’t. However, I had a great conversation with Marian Carpenter of the National Civil Rights Museum about how the Freedom Rides and Friendship Nine changed the movement. Priyah Chhaya from the National Trust on Historic Preservation was cool to talk to as well and talk about something we have in common, which is Joe McGill’s Slave Cabin Project and how awesome that is. Priyah blogs at This Is What Happens Next and is now on my list of subscribed blogs. Her content is amazing and I can’t wait to read more from her.
Speed networking wouldn’t be networking if I didn’t make a connection with someone that wanted to talk to me about what I do and exchange ideas. I met with Denise Maringolo who told me that I was all set once I let her know what projects I had already done and what I was doing with my blog. She did tell me that I needed to contact one Lisa Hayes of the Acookee Foundation because she would be an interesting person to talk to. I wrote down Lisa’s email address and planned on looking her up as soon as I got back to Charlotte. Monday morning rolls around and before I head out the door, I look at my email and both Lisa and Denise had messages waiting for me. I was shocked and overwhelmed at how positive the response to what I do was. Usually, people will say, “Oh, I’ll put you in touch with so and so” and they never do it. This time, not only did Denise make the suggestion but she did the follow through before I could even sit down to the email and make it happen. I am so grateful for that.
If it’s one thing I learned about the speed networking event, it’s that you don’t have to oversell yourself in order to shine through. You pick up such valuable information by listening to others, and you also get to hear feedback, whether it’s positive or negative on what you’re doing and how you can do it better. Seriously, all organizations need to have a speed networking event so that others can at least get in the door the way NCPH does.