I receive invitations to many events, most held in the evening after regular work hours. My schedule is quite busy (just like many of you), and I try to be as efficient and productive as I can in my workday. I still work long hours, but don’t mind because I enjoy my career, it is part of my life and it blends together. Each event I attend after work takes time from my personal time. I have to decide which events to go to and balance attending these with exercise, my hobbies (lately with my blog posts), and my favorite thing to do…spend time with my hubby and family…oh, and getting some rest after work. In my twenties, I attended lots of work related events because of the position I had and because I was also increasing my network of business contacts. I have a few binders full of business cards. At this point of my career, I still attend events, but a lot less, my max is about one per week (that includes super fun events, like gallery openings or food/wine/cultural related receptions). At these events, I still network and see if there is a connection related to an opportunity for the TV stations where I work, but if I run into someone I am fond of, I will likely stay there and catch up with them.
Over the years, I have met lots of people, thousands, and some have become what I call “business friends.” They are more than a business contact or acquaintance, but not as close as a personal friend that you call often or would go for a walk with. These are people that I am fond of and genuinely care about. Some of these people I’ve known for more than ten years, some for less than one. These business friends have seen me grow and advance in my career, and I have seen them advance into different positions as well. Over the years, I have gotten to know them better and learned about their families, travels, and hobbies. In some cases, we’ve called each other for career advice.
There are occasions when the events I get invited to are to celebrate the success of a business friend. I automatically know that will be the event I choose to attend that week because it is to celebrate a friend! Today, I attended one of those events. A good business friend became the Executive Director of a non-profit organization and there was a reception held in his honor. I had a wonderful time, of course my guest was Lola (bff), which added to the fun! It was a small and intimate event, with about forty people. As soon as I walked into the reception I saw three people I have known for years and got to catch up with them. As I moved through the room I kept seeing more people I know and an fond of. In just a few minutes, we were laughing and sharing stories, tips on traveling, and even recipes! It was also nice to hear that they follow my blog and even mentioned some of the posts, and gave me suggestions for topics for future blog posts. It warmed my heart! It was nice to see the friend that was being honored and be there to show my support in this new stage of his career.
I have met two of my closest friends through my career and networking, they are as close as sisters for me (one of them introduced me to my husband…so this business friend, turned personal friend, introduced me to the man that is the love of my life). In another post, I will share about those stories and these wonderful ladies. So, when you attend networking events, don’t just think about how the people you are meeting can help you advance your career or become a client for your company. Don’t take me wrong, still network and build your contact database, continue connecting with more business people, but also try to enjoy the event. Be selective of the events you attend and have fun! For all you know, you could make some “business friends”….some of which may become personal friends….and have an impact in not only your professional life, but also your personal life!