Meeting New Friends at Networking Events is the Highlight for Me

Always fun to catch up with friends over a pint.
Always fun to catch up with friends over a pint.

Last night I was part of a panel hosted by the Association for Women Journalists (Chicago) and the American Society of Journalists and Authors entitled How to Be a Freelancer and Still Pay the Rent: Tips from the Trenches on Expanding into New Markets.

As is always the case whenever I’m a speaker, panelist or moderator, I get as much as I give if not more so because I have access to the speakers. Last night was no different.

Although the ladies pictured here were friends of mine before this event, it’s these “after” events that I feel we get to really know each other. Not pictured here were 5 other women whom I just met last night. Some were friends of friends and one just attended the event and wanted to join us. Smart, no? The whole point of these events is to meet people so why not get to know someone over a pint of beer, after the event, at a nearby bar?

I’m not a wallflower but I know these events can be intimidating for some, especially when you don’t know anyone. I attended an event hosted by the Independent Writers of Chicago a couple of years ago because the topic was interesting to me and I was eager to meet new colleagues. It didn’t happen. I attended the event, it was a great event, but I just didn’t have it in me to meet people so after the event I went home. And that’s fine, too. I got what I needed from the event and moved on. But I wouldn’t hesitate to attend another one in the near future and make it a point to introduce myself.

As I mentioned during the presentation yesterday, as writers we often think of those hiring us the people we want to know we exist. Logically, if/when they need a writer, they’ll think of us. In my case, though, almost all of my business and writing work has come from friends. Not editors. At least not initially. What normally happens is someone will call or email me and say, “hey, so and so needs a 1,500 word feature on XYZ, are you interested and available and can I make an intro?”

More often than not (and there are times when it’s not), I’ll say absolutely and a love affair begins. It’s a win-win for everyone because the editor gets a writer, I get to work with a new editor and a new assignment and my friend is a hero to that editor because she came to the editor with a person she feels qualified to do the job.

I love attending events because I learn so much personally but I almost always leave with a new friend. And, truthfully, that matters more to me than the event.

Until next time, cheers!

PS – The Chicago Blackhawks won last night.

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