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Guest Post: Networking and the Rashomon Effect

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Last week, Crain’s New York Business hosted one of their regular networking breakfasts, this one on the Business of Arts and Culture, a target market that several of my clients are pursuing. So I suggested to each that they attend. Three of them did and told me about it afterward. What I found amazing was the Rashomon effect — how different was the experience of each of them, from, "There was no one to network with" to "I can’t believe how many good prospects were in the room." I asked one of them, Jezra Kaye of Communicate with Power and Ease, to write about her experience and here’s what she wrote. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me.

Last week, I attended an expensive breakfast event sponsored by Crain’s New York Business.  It began with a half-hour for networking, but (like a true subconscious resister), I managed to show up 20 minutes late. With only 10 minutes ‘till the program started, most people were already seated and most tables were already full.

I’m too late to meet anyone, I thought. Can I go home now?

Only the memory of the money I’d spent (and not wanting to look like an idiot to Ilise!) kept me from walking back out the door. I found an empty seat, sat down, and soon discovered that the man sitting next to me was (a) delightful and (b) a potential client.

Crain’s high-level panelists started talking. And, lo and behold, twenty minutes later, a friend of mine we’ll call Nellie slipped into the room, looking flustered, frustrated…  and really late.

I sought her out when the program were over and, as I’d expected, she said, I’m so upset that it’s too late to network. Let’s find a Starbucks and hang out.

If I hadn’t just been through that same riff, I might have bought it. Instead, I looked around the room and noticed that many participants were lingering. 

How can it be too late when there are still people here? I asked. And then, finding the courage to do on Nellie’s behalf what I probably wouldn’t have done for myself, I said, Let’s meet some people and then go for coffee.

We dutifully separated and hit the room. She met two new contacts, including one of the event speakers.  I met two great people and reconnected with an acquaintance. Finally, the room started emptying. On our way out, Nellie and I stopped by the ladies room, where we met another fascinating attendee, chatting with her all the way down to the street, where business cards were exchanged all around.

So if you’re like me and always asking, Can I go home now??? maybe the answer is:  As soon as you’ve met just one more person.

Because it’s actually not too late!

  • More in: Connecting, Guest Mixers, How to Get the Most from ______, Not for Introverts Only, Posts by Ilise

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