For some, real friendships and bonds are made for a lifetime. The excitement of networking is meeting new like-minded individuals who share a drive for career excellence. You want the freshness of seeing a new entrepreneur describe their present and future goals. Sharing what they do and the anticipated yields they project. We are hopeful for them and ourselves, get a card, share a coffee and move on right?
Having seen at times pretty terrific networking over the years I watched, learned and listened. Heard pitches and tones and collected to memory what were the highlights and the downfalls. Networking was in the blood since my early days in New Jersey where a very performance driven group of women and men traveled to monthly venues to offer introductions with aperitifs in hand. I met a lot of interesting people and cards and mostly never contacted or heard from them again until spotting them at the next venue. Knowing there had to be an enormous effort in getting people of varying schedules and skillsets together, the wonder was why didn’t there appear to be a greater return on my investment-my time.
I moved to Connecticut where more of the same took place so at least there were consistencies state to state. More time went by and I experienced more meetings, people and food but never the feeling that I truly connected with professionals on a serious level. Definitely not green I sought out groups doing more than the proverbial handshake as some resort so as to avoid personal contact which I thought odd, but I digress. After getting a few curt nods of what I guess should have felt like privileged acknowledgements I still was at a loss for real connections. One day I was invited to go to a meet-up group, then another and yet another.
Better results. Real handshakes and follow-ups, nice. Obtained some business from these outlets, still wanting to see much more though in the arena of connecting and especially inspiring women to reach new heights outside of the usual sales pitch intro. The belief of getting out there with gusto, gathering cards and meeting for coffee is one way and I’m not knocking it. There are other ways.
The concept of Connect and Inspire was a dreamed reality I had in the heart for a time but really hit square in my soft spot-deaf culture. As I sat at a deaf play last year, amazement and celebration ensued. For the first time the deaf organizations putting on the play allowed for the play to be interpreted for hearing attendees. Splendid demonstration of the formation of the first deaf contact and school formation, how they evolved through the years until present has tears in the eyes of just about every hearing and deaf person present.
Part of what infused the decision was a determination to connect deaf and hearing worlds for a more united way of communicating. After all, a majority of the actors were hearing interpreters and the plays were excellently executed but were deaf-kind not hearing friendly and many hearing family and friends supported the events. The announcement made at the play was huge and still has a lasting impact on me and others who discuss and refer back to what happened that day often, how we felt and would ultimately put into practice gathering people together for a grander purpose.
More than a notion was born as I sat knowing the time was ripe for me to act on another dream of establishing an all women professional group of networkers. They would have to show beyond the normal attendance makers a desire to sincerely grow in and beyond the ranks of the networking. They needed to motivate, inspire, think outside of the box and pay it forward. In other words, an extension of what my company Floral Greens Publishing is all about. The meeting itself is free to attendees and all I ask is that everyone pay it forward by purchasing from the venue. As part of the monthly offering we have specially prepped workshops going the distance beyond keeping the conversation going. Real world benefits are everyone gives their expertise to and refreshingly honest feedback.
Nine were in attendance for the first meeting held at Abigail’s Grille and Wine Bar, a lovely warm restaurant with fabulous food and an atmosphere nestled in the rustically beautiful, if not Norman Rockwellish town of Simsbury Ct. A lively discussion on how we could take our businesses to the next level and personal obstacles to bridge the gaps led into a conversation none of us will ever forget. Stories of triumph and breaking barriers enlightened and excited us all. Each monthly meeting afterward got better and better with attendance topping 39 at one point.
The feedback was tremendous and prompted me to create our first ever 2016 Connect & Inspire Women Entrepreneur calendar. In selecting the 12 women to accompany me for the calendar, I wanted to maintain the standards set for the group’s inspiration. In promoting women business I requested the photographer in the group to write up a prospectus for the ladies, offering a cost and setting inside a great studio, snacks were provided. The photo sessions were amazing, final results stunning. You will want to know these calendar women as they have overcome the odds, prevailed in transition and add professional flair and expertise to any resume.
January-Dawn Harden, Floral Greens Publishing; three time Author of A Letter For Brighton, A Flowered Thorn and Motiv8; and Cynthia Lang of Cynthia Lang Photography-(simply amazing!)
February-Dionne Morgan-Haygood, owner and operator of A Soul Food Bistro located in Windsor Ct.
March-Patricia Giordano, Travel Consultant
April-Jenny Castle, Jenny Castle Human Resources Consultant located in Windsor Ct.
May-Nan Arnstein, Creative Arts for Developing Minds; brilliant Writer/Author of “Rocky Shores”
June-Lisa Gangone, Qivanna
July-Stephanie McAllister, wildly talented Poet
August-Deanna Reaney, Karma’s Closet located in Newington Ct.
September-Lisa Ciotto, New Foundations Health
October-Sue Torres, Animal Activist, heart felt two-time Writer/Author of Loyalty Unleashed-Pitbull and the People Who Love Them series
November- Christine Cosby, Massage Therapist, Juice Plus representative
December Elizabeth Ross Norman, International Opera Singer
Here are Connect & Inspire we have formulated successful and meaningful connections for a greater return on your time and effort. Learning and growing your presence beyond the present. Any of these professionals can be contacted whether here on Linkedin or inbox me for specific information about Connect & Inspire, which I decided to trademark. Making national strides by spring, international by November 2016-through the aid of technology. I have a small panel of influencers who add monthly input and feedback which is greatly appreciated.
Sharing a joint celebration with A Soul Food Bistro last November with a full buffet and candy bar to die for, we know how to champion accomplishments. Connect & Inspire Calendars and brochures are still selling and available. Many contacting me are wanting these for keepsakes as very few networking groups have their own calendars. I am quite proud of the achievement and currently reviewing 2017 calendar candidates. Let me know if you would like to be considered. Part of my background is brand marketing and creative stylist. It was great putting the brochure and calendar together along with other marketing materials.
The idea of everyone wearing black was to galvanize our personal features and what better way to enhance instead of running colors and trying to situate everyone by their personal color choice. It worked. Cynthia Lang our group's photographer, went way beyond the call. Instead of headshots she utilized various poses and items making up our individualized careers. The finished product is nothing short of breathtaking.
If you are ready for something fresh in women-networking feel free to contact me. You do not have to own a business, but are striving to build a better, stronger network and career. The continued hope is to inspire-connect-pay it forward. Are you in?
Until next time~