Day 55: Attended Allied Executive Annual Business Event

My boss brought me along to a business event today. It was for CEOs, so I fit right in.

The speakers were pretty good, their main points/good reminders:

  • Work smarter, not harder
  • Hire (um, I can’t do that) a variety of people–aka introverts, extroverts, creative, number-crunchers, x-generations, millennials, etc. to get different perspectives and talents
  • Encourage discussion about concepts (to challenge and improve them), but make sure to avoid “fluff” in meetings

So yeah, some good stuff there…but the speeches (collectively) were long, and I almost peed my tights.

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After the sit-and-listen part was done, there was networking (and free food). By networking I mean people stood around and mingled with people they worked with. I walked around in circles, awkwardly staring at the few booths’ materials, and striking up conversations about insurance policies (when I have NO knowledge of this whatsoever).

And as I grabbed a cookie and did another lap around the room, I realized this event had a “weird” networking vibe, just like the Minnedemo event I attended on Day 43. And as I shook hands from a man after he bought me a beer I realized why I felt so weird. This wasn’t networking. This was a bunch of friends chatting about nothing, and I was just a girl walking around to be ogled, pitied, or pursued (did I mention the one person I gave a business card to at the Minnedemo called me at work and asked me out?). Ugh.

I’m not saying people were unprofessional, and I’m also not implying that everyone was ogling me (my over-caffeinated awkward bug eyes no doubt served as a repellent), I’m not even saying that the guy who bought me a beer was hitting on me (although regardless, he shouldn’t have bought me a beer). I’m just saying that the majority of attendees weren’t trying to meet new people and/or share business expertise and advice. I felt like an outsider. Just like with the Minnedemo, there were few women, and just like the Minnedemo and their smarty-pants attendees, this event was filled with a demographic so unlike my own: people with money.

And although I left the place with some gained knowledge, more experience in talking to strangers, and a general feeling of well-being from being around people (since I am most often a hermit), now that I sit and think about it, I’m a little sad.

And I’m a little thankful. I need to destroy that networking barrier, and become comfortable talking with anyone. I need to capture that bad vibe and strangle it, rework it, and reintroduce it into my life under my terms.

**Again I want to assure that this event/organization is great, swell, awesome. I met some nice people and had some nice conversations. I just wanted to share an internal struggle.

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