In early 2010, at the first EventCamp, I discovered the wonder and power of meeting people face-to-face whom I had previously only met online. Perhaps the wonder is stronger for me than most, living in rural Vermont, 100+ miles from any city. Nevertheless, when I travel to a major metropolitan area these days and have a few hours free I try to bring people together.
This month I spent time in Chicago and a couple of trips to Washington, DC. Before the first DC jaunt, I sent an email out to #eventprofs and #assnchat acquaintances who lived in the area. KiKi L’Italien, Lindsey Rosenthal, Angelique Agutter, Alex Plaxen, Melanie Padgett Powers, and more met up for delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks at a private home (thank you Libby O’Malley & Nancy Pasternack!) and dinner in Alexandria Old Town.
And last week, Maddie Grant, Jamie Notter, Alex Plaxen, Brian Davis, Gina Leigh, Monica Bussolati, Moira Edwards, Brian Volmuth, Lori Woehrle, Pamela Strother (and probably a few others whom I didn’t get to talk to) met up at The Rooftop at The Embassy Row Hotel (big thanks to Sarah Vining who sponsored our meetup!)
I love bringing people together in ways that work for them—in fact that’s my mission. So it was a pleasure to host these three casual meetups for event and association management professionals. What was amusing, however, was how often people thanked me for bringing them together. I had to laugh—here was a guy from Vermont facilitating connection between people who all lived near each other, people who could easily arrange to meet frequently. And yet…they didn’t.
Sometimes people need permission to connect. In this case, a small outside impetus was all that was required. An hour of my time to send emails out to my local connections, find somewhere to meet, and track/answer questions from those who were coming. No big deal. And I doubt it hurt my professional life to be a connector, an initiator for the enjoyable and interesting connections that subsequently occurred.
Yes, we’re all busy. But let’s not forget that our work in the event and association spheres is fundamentally about facilitating connection between others. And that should, once in a while, include ourselves—our peers—both known and new. So, pass it forward, my friends. Once or twice a year, send out some invites for a casual get together with your peers. It needn’t be elaborate or have a specific marketing focus; just meet somewhere for drinks or a meal. Publicize the event to your local network and welcome anyone who hears about it and wants to come.
You’ll be bringing people together. Who knows what the pleasant consequences will be?