How To Throw An Event That Rocks The House

A Dramatic Reenactment of the Entrance to Word Nerd Networking

In November 2010, about 75 people crammed themselves into a small back room at the Galway Hooker for an event I’d planned with the fantabulous Marian Schembari.

Needless to say, I was shocked. It was my very first foray into event planning, and I had assumed we’d be lucky if even five people bought tickets.

But apparently, we had hit upon a real need amongst word nerdy types.

In the end, the event was a success. People raved to me about the great conversations they’d had, and the connections they’d made. They even asked me when the next event was taking place! (To which I began laughing maniacally because I was having a nervous breakdown… you’ll soon see why…)

Still — as I assume happens with most events of this sort — not everything went smoothly.

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How To Build Your Network Without Having a Panic Attack

That time you saw me at that thing? I was screaming on the inside.

There are sooo many things that terrify me about networking events. I agonize over the best way to approach people, and then wuss out and don’t approach anyone. I assume that, when people see me cowering in the corner alone, they instantly know I’m lame. I worry that my obvious social awkwardness is turning off anyone I happen to be speaking with. I berate myself for being so completely boring.

I’m an introvert. Extended social interactions exhaust me and, after awhile, I hit a wall. I also have social anxiety. Drinking helps. My shrink has suggested pot. My Xanax just puts me to sleep.

But taking networking from online to in-the-flesh is SO IMPORTANT. It can solidify a relationship that you’ve developed online, or lead to new, promising connections. Also? Despite the fact that y’all terrify me so damn much, I love meeting new people and forging new connections. It’s just so gratifying to connect with someone who shares my interests… who can act as a sounding board… who I can swap tips and war stories with. And maintaining those relationships can be key in moving a career forward. The bulk of the work that comes to me nowadays is thanks to people I’ve worked with in the past, or people I BS with on Twitter, or people I’ve met at this or that networking event, thanks to several large glasses of wine.

I want you guys to have that, too.

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What Does Networking Mean To You?

In June 2011, J. Maureen Henderson wrote a post for Forbes on what networking isn’t… and what it could be. I cheered as I read her post, because she got it. She got that networking wasn’t about desperation-fueled schmoozing. (Well. It shouldn’t be.) It wasn’t about working a room or handing out business cards willy-nilly. It was about conversation. It was about connection. It was about all the ways we connect with others on a daily basis, in a thousand different ways.

“Blogging is networking,” she wrote. “Being on Twitter is networking. Sending your BFF a job posting that you think would be perfect for her roommate is networking. Asking Jim in Marketing if he knows someone who is aces at web design is networking. When your new hair stylist asks what you do for a living and you answer her? That’s networking.”

The year before, J.M. did a video interview with me about my career coaching business. That was networking, too. One of J.M.’s blog readers saw that video and became my very first e-course student.

What else is networking?

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How To Use Twitter to Reach the Top of Your Field

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Twitter: It’s nothing new. I myself have been using it for years to promote my writing and connect with other freelancers, and even did a guest post over at TwiTip at one point on taking your Twitter networking from online to in-the-flesh. Still — despite all the how-tos out there — people are still Doing It Wrong.

So check out — after the jump — four ways to use Twitter the right way as a means of building your personal business:

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