As a general rule, I hate “networking” events for entrepreneurs. The thought of walking up to people I don’t know and striking up a fake conversation just doesn’t really interest me. I much rather be at home ticking through my to-do list and sipping a glass of Pinot Noir or at the factory strategizing with my team on what needs to get done this week.
However, there are some exceptions. I love techie events. The information or content is usually really great, but if there is anything I can be sure of, its that I will be like the only black women in the room. It can be totally weird and just a little bit isolating, when you look around and see a handful of people of color in a sea of white men who think they are the next Zuck. It’s also a little bit annoyinig, to say the least, when you overhear these guys’ conversations about how they have raised a round of Series A funding for an idea that makes absolutely no sense. Wait you want to send people a happy birthday email with music and you’ve raised $750,00 thousand and you make less than $15,000 a year? #icant
Then there are the woman networking events. These can also sometimes be hit or miss. I’m in manufacturing and generally women tend to be in other lines of businesses. It’s not to say we don’t have anything in common, but sometimes I don’t feel as if I make the most valuable connections at some of these gatherings, because our businesses tend to be so vastly different. Also, although we’re not a mature business, you tend to find the women’s events are much more geared to people who are looking to start businesses versus women who are already running them. Again, this is just my personal experience, and is not true for every single event that exists for this demographic.
So, I’m always in this kind of weird place, where I feel like I’m standing on platform 9 3/4 at King’s Station waiting to catch the Hogwarts Express. That’s why today’s Breakfast with Micae sponsored by the Chicago Sun Time and The Minority Report was such a refreshing event. It was the first time in like forever that I was at a networking event with other business owners comprised mostly of people and color. There were also a phenomenal line up of women speakers, who shared their experiences and how they got started, including such notables as the KMR Law Group, an all African American woman law practice based here in Chicago, Barbara Bates of Bates Designs, Linda Boasmond, Owner, Cedar Concepts, and Mary Lindsey, Owner, Jokes and Note.
It was great meeting these ladies. They specialize in transnational work and
people are always asking me to look over their agreements or give them referrals.
Now, I know exactly who to send them to.
Plus, it was great and also a little weird to run into so many of my friends, who I normally see at after work happy hour events at our favorite bars and political fundraisers. It’s like wait, I’ve known you 10 years, and I’ve never seen you drink coffee or eat a bagel before. Wow, this is so weird. You actually eat breakfast?
In any events, hats off to Ms. Micae for bringing together such a talented, DIVERSE, and awesome group of people of color to break croissants, swap business cards, and make leads.
I’m very much looking forward to the next one.
Congratulations to our boy Vasco for being appointed the head of the
Chicago Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Initiative.
Me and my boy Darrick. We go way back to my Jenner Days. So proud that he’s a partner at a major Chicago law firm now.
It was great seeing my boy Ren. Bankers and lawyers make great friends!
Maybe I should just suck it up and go. What are your thoughts? Do you like networking events?
Chris-Tia Donaldson is the owner of Thank God It’s Natural and the author of the best-selling book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Natural Hair. You can follow her on Instagram @tginatural or on Facebook @thankgodimnatural. Tune in every Monday for the Target update until we launch nationwide in stores on March X, 2014.